Saturday, 25 October 2014

An autumnal afternoon stroll around RHS Wisley

I don't have a garden where I live but I often potter around my Mum's garden and have an interest in all things growing. Therefore when Mum suggested an overdue visit to RHS Wisley this afternoon, I happily agreed. Of course I knew it would include a lengthy look around the shop. My lovely Mum can't come away from a place like Wisley without buying at least one plant !
 For me, October is one of the best times to visit. I was looking forward to photographing autumnal colours and fungi, but sadly was disappointed on both counts. The mild autumn weather meant not all of the tree leaves had yet turned into the wonderful yellows and reds that I expected, and apart from a couple of sorry looking specimens in the car park, we didn't find any fruiting fungi.
But I did get to see my favourite flowering bulb, the cyclamen. Wisley has the best naturalised collection I have ever seen. Todays visit was a bit late in the season for these beautiful little gems as some of the flowers had already died off and produced seed heads, which the stems had gently coiled around and lowered back to the ground. But there was still the odd patch still flowering well, and of course there was the under cover collection in the Alpine Houses to quench my addiction.
 My favourite are the Hederifolium varieties with their variegated leaves but we also saw Coums, Cilicums and Mirables today. Luckily Mum is aware how these tiny little plants affect me (imagine Chris Packhams reaction to a Sparrowhawk and that is the same feeling I get when I see cyclamen) and was happy to indulge me while I took loads of photos.

On our way to the Alpine Houses for my 'cyclamen fix', we came across this unusual plant.
We walked straight past it initially. The teeny tiny little flowers in the middle of the leaf bract at first looked like another plant had scattered it's seeds over them. It's called Ruscus hypoglossum aka the Mouse Thorn. Occasionally, but not very often, those tiny tiny little flowers turn in to a fruit called a red globose berry.

Elsewhere on site we found several bushes of a favourite berry plant of both mine and Mums, the Callicarpa. It can look quite boring during the rest of the year but in autumn the lovely purple berries appear.
The one below is 'Imperial Pearl', but we discovered today there are also white and pink berried varieties too.
I did get some autumnal colour photos eventually....

The planting around The Glasshouse was looking quite autumnal too....
and there was even a Little Grebe on the large pond.....
In The Glasshouse itself, Mum and I lingered the longest over our another of our joint favourites, the Orchids. Mum is very successful with the ones at her home. We joke that she is the Orchid Doctor sometimes as myself and others have given her our failed flowering plants, and within a year she's succeeded in encouraging flower spikes on them. So the next set of photos are just for Mum......

Back outside we made our way to one of my favourite parts of Wisley, which is Battleston Hill. There are mature trees in the dip at the base of the hill which have previously provided me with great views of Nuthatches. Today although we could hear them, we only got a fleeting glimpse of one as it flitted from tree to tree.
We found another unusual plant with stems over six feet tall and large seed heads at the top.  

This is Cardiocrinum giganteum aka the Giant Himalayan Lily. It takes up to seven years for this huge lily to flower, and once it has, it then dies. But it does leave behind these wonderful seed heads and underground it produces bulblets which will grow and flower three to five years later. Sadly we had missed the July flowering, but the stems and seed heads left behind were impressive enough.
On our way to the inevitable plant shop stop, we were both distracted by a late flowering aster down the Mixed Borders walk that was attracting lots of bees and wasps.

And after enquiring inside the shop we found the aster wasn't available to buy until May. Oh well, that's a good excuse to go back next spring for another visit then.
Of course Mum didn't leave the shop empty handed and after dilly dallying over a Callicarpa and some alpines, she finally walked away with two house plants plus two more Orchids to add to her conservatory collection. I'm pretty sure if she hadn't been so tired there would have been many more purchases.
So not much wildlife to show for a blog called Wino Wendys Wildlife World, but I did get to photograph a very showy Dunnock........
one of several singing Robins.......

and a bad record shot of one of at least three Grey Wagtails........

We also saw Jays, Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Carron Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies plus the fleeting glimpse of the Nuthatch, and our journey on the M25 provided us with the usual Kestrels, Buzzards and Red Kites.
We were only there for the afternoon, and saw just a fraction of what Wisley has to offer. Once Mum is back to her full active fitness level, then a full days visit to the gardens will be on the agenda.

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