Visit: RHS Wisley, a succulent heaven

On a grey, drizzly day last week I visited the Royal Horticultural Society's Wisley Garden, in Surrey. 

The garden is one of four run by the RHS in the UK, and within its 240 acres are nestled orchards, rose gardens, rock gardens, a canal, a woodland wild area and the huge bicentenary glasshouse, which was my main destination for the day.

Within the glasshouse are three planting areas: tropical, moist temperate and dry temperate. The structure is awe-inspiring, a great glass temple filled with deep, rich, green foliage. There's a hush when you walk through the door as though the plants themselves dampen the voices of visitors (even the god-awful shouts of over-excited children).

I headed straight to the dry temperate to check out the succulents and cacti. The air in there seemed to rustle with its dryness, rasping against the huge, years-old plants that were hardened with age, tough at the edges and thick-skinned. On the floor, nestled in the rocks were many-headed thick leaved succulents, some as big as man's hand, others younger. The cacti were unbelievable - they surpassed anything I'd ever seen in terms of height, seize and stature (not hard in England).
View from the top of the Alpine Hill (I think)
After the dry temperate, we explored the two other plantings areas. The difference between tropical and dry temperate climates was crazy, considering there didn't seem to even be a door. You walked in past a jungle-like swamp and the wet, sticky air hit you in the face. Tendrils hung around your head, brushing gently against you and at each turn we expected to see the flash of neon of some tropical bird or frog (there aren't any, unfortunately).

Afterwards, I wandered through the rest of the garden with my Mum, admiring the fruit blossoms that were starting their celebration of spring and walking through the Bonsai avenue, and the Alpine rockeries.

Here is a selection of photos from the day:

A Rockery Garden

Mum blending with the blossoms

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