A new, state-of-the-art Welcome building at RHS Garden Wisley has been opened on June 10 by founding RHS Ambassador Alan Titchmarsh.
A bigger Plant Centre covering 5000 sq m will stock tens of thousands of plants and feature displays by specialist UK growers all year round. The RHS claim at Wisley they will be making a larger variety of rare and unusual plants available for people to buy for their homes and gardens than anywhere else in Britain.
RHS Greening Great Britain launched last month to encourage everyone to grow more plants across the UK to bring significant benefits to our health and the environment.
Alan Titchmarsh said: “Millions visit Wisley every year to be inspired by the horticulture on display and now the RHS flagship site will be a permanent showcase to celebrate specialist UK growers, just as it does at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and its other world-famous events. These plant specialists lovingly grow the rarest, most unusual and beautiful varieties in the world, which thrive in UK gardens because they’re so used to our climate.”
Country Garden Plant Sales (Dorset) will display ferns, including the new ‘Jurassic Gold’ which has golden leaves and can withstand very cold temperatures. W.D Smith and Sons (Essex) will display pelargoniums, many with unusual scents including orange, pine, rose and cola. A large range of dahlias, including some the size of dinner plates by Pheasant Acre Plants (Bridgend). Peonies by Primrose Hall Nursery (Milton Keynes), hostas by Stafford Lake Nursery (Woking) and acers by Credale Nursery (Herefordshire).
Alan added: “I promise to help Greening Great Britain by continuing to promote and buy from specialist UK growers. If the UK’s army of 27 million gardeners were to do the same, we would be protecting the UK from pests and diseases coming in from abroad; helping pollinators which need a diverse range of plants in order to survive; and supporting this vital industry that is worth more than £24 billion to the UK economy.”
To meet the growing houseplant trend, there will be more houseplants in stock than ever before. Houseplant sales at RHS plant centres are up 50% with non-flowering varieties up 64%. Plants with air-purifying qualities are selling well with sales in ‘snake plants’ increasing tenfold. Ferns are enjoying a resurgence and cacti are becoming even more popular.
The new Welcome building also contains improved visitor facilities including a spacious arrivals hall, a 100-seater restaurant, bigger shops selling gardening and artisan products and a larger café.
For the first time, visitors will be welcomed by world class horticulture on arrival with new landscaping by multi-award-winning Christopher Bradley-Hole. 250 native trees will be planted in and around the car-park and visitors will enter the 240-acre garden through an avenue of 100 cherry trees.
Once inside the garden, visitors can explore several new areas. Namely, the 75-metre long Wisteria Walk, The Exotic Garden and Heather Landscape with ornamental grass borders.
This is the first of three major projects that make up a wider £70 million transformation of RHS Garden Wisley. The second is the creation of the UK’s first National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, opening in 2020, and the restoration of its iconic Laboratory. The RHS is currently fundraising for the final £2 million.