RHS Wisley: Part I – The Exotic Garden

Saturday 15th September saw our return to the Exotic Garden at RHS Wisley a year after our first visit. It is certainly looking a lot more established, with towering Musa and Canna providing height and structure to the garden. Imposing Ricinus communis ‘Impala’ add colour and contrast to the planting along with Cyperus involucratus standing an impressive 2m or more tall in the border.

August 2017

Looking at my photos from last year it’s amazing to see the differences, Canna ‘Stuggart’ now towers above much of the surrounding planting, yet a year ago and freshly planted they were tiny by comparison. Where there was bare soil there is now ground cover provided by scented-leaved Pelargoniums and Plectranthus (coleus).

September 2018

For me the Hedychiums were the showstoppers with their beautiful flowers and glorious scent. I can see me adding some to my own exotic borders next year. Seeing the Cautleya spicata reminded me of why I grew these myself from seed a couple of years ago and why I need to get them out of their pots and into the garden!  I wasn’t disappointed not to see the pineapples from last year as I didn’t feel that they added anything more than curiosity value to the planting. 

It was interesting to see the attractive flowers of Fuchsia boliviana white form for the first time, although the scant woody plant was less desirable, maybe it wasn’t best suited to the hot sunny position? Another eye-catching flower was Hibiscus trionum also a strong contender to be included my garden next year.

At just a year old the Exotic Garden is already looking great and as the plants mature and tweaks are made to planting scheme it will just get better.

For anyone growing exotics, overwintering their half-hardy and tender plants is always a challenge so it would be fascinating to visit the garden once again in the depths of winter to see what is left in the ground and how it is protected.

From this visit, as well as several recent trips to see exotic gardens open under the National Gardens Scheme, I have drawn plenty of inspiration to take my own garden forward both in its design and planting.

Watch this space!


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