A very nice lunch at Wisley RHS

Back of Wisley house
Back of Wisley house

We had a Sunday to ourselves and following a recommendation from my parents, I suggested Wisley RHS might be worth a try. The weather forecast was overcast with a promise of some breaks on the could and it was the middle of winter, not the best time to visit a garden, but we threw caution to the wind.

I picked Helen up after church at about 1020 then we headed off around the M25, the road to all venues. I missed the turning off of the A3 so we had the pleasure of visiting a plane called Burpham! The detour was slight and we were soon parking up. Given the time of year the car park was surprisingly busy we were in the last few rows of the third and final car park.

Butterfly in the glasshouse at Wisley
Butterfly in the glasshouse at Wisley

I had checked out the membership options on the RHS site, and enquired whether the single membership which allowed for a “family guest” would stretch to letting the wife in, it did so £42 later I had one year’s entrance. Given that adults pay £12 all I had to do was to visit twice on my own or once more with Helen and we were quids in.

We took a look at the map and decided that the cafe at the far side of the entrance was the place to head for as it was more or less coffee time. The cafe was heaving by the time we got there it seemed like every Londoner had decided to have coffee or lunch at the Wisley RHS cafe. We did however manage to find a table inside amongst the screaming 5 year olds. The coffee and walnut cake was great shared with Helen and the cappuccino was good.

Our next stop would be the glass houses where they had a special feature for the winter, butterflies from exotic lands were in one section. The queue sign suggested a 20 minute wait did not seem like too long, so we waited and it did not. The man controlling the entry said the sun had made the glasshouse hot so people were moving though quite quickly. Once in it was great there were lots of different types of butterfly, most of them much larger than the British varieties. They seemed quite tame too, sitting on leaves and allow me to take their photos.

View of the green houses of Wisley
View of the green houses of Wisley

From the glass house we headed up hill towards the apple tree collection, at the top there is a great view over the site. From there we headed kind of back towards the entrance. We looked in on the alpine area and I took a pan of the small glass house. The bonsai were interesting nearly all were over 50 years old and one was 150 years old, clearly not a hobby you should start a when you’re tire if you want to see the results of your efforts. The veg growing area was impressive and almost inspired me to sort out my two metre square patch at home.

We headed toward the restaurant and cafe for some lunch, it was about 13:10 and the food hall was Ramos but once we had got some food we found a whole courtyard in the the sun where no one wanted to sit, we had the place to ourselves then shared it with another couple. The food we chose was Parmesan butternut squash baked in filo pastry with a celeriac and beetroot coleslaw and a couscous salad, it went down a treat.

Unusual red flower Wisley
Unusual red flower Wisley

After lunch we wandered towards a bird hide in a far corner of the site, where the pines and heather collections are. On the way I suggested that we might see a ringed neck parakeet and would you believe it about a minute later one flew over and perched in a tree ahead. For once I had my binoculars with me and we got a good look. I have seen enough now to be able identify them was they fly over, with tree long tails and fast fighter jet like flight. There is a public footpath that runs through that part of the park and the park path goes under a bridge to allow the path to be bordered by chain link fence and barbed wired, then strangely at the other end you can get into the park with just a sign suggesting you should not and a couple of CCTV cameras as a deterrent.

We had to exit via the gift shop which was very comprehensive, and had a good book department which along with all the other tut meant that Helen spent some time browsing then spending (ed: Helen was ushered too fast out of said gift shop!).  I did buy a device that allows eggs to be decapitated. The journey home was smooth and without traffic issues, we chose the M40 Beaconsfield route just for a change. I will look forward to visiting again throughout the year to see how the plants and flowers change throughout.