RHS Wisley with Kids
When my mum mentioned that she would like to visit RHS Wisley when she was next here and suggested we join her, I did a little bit of an inward groan. I don’t know much about the RHS but assumed it would be a big posh, formal garden crowded with semi-retired ladies in their M&S scarves, dragging reluctant husbands around with them as they coo over the hyancinths and petunias. The last thing they would want to see is two hyperactive children that had been let loose after hours cooped up in restrictive car seats on the journey there.
My mum sent me a link to a WI scarecrow trail that was there during August (and was a little disappointing being mainly Bruce Forsyth models for some reason rather than the traditional scarecrows I’d expected) and I started to wonder if perhaps my preconceptions had been wrong. I began to explore the website and found lots of child-friendly indicators. A children’s play area was mentioned, children’s entertainment, children’s activity sheets and trails, baby change facilities; the list went on. It was looking promising.
With my mum’s membership, her and my dad got in for free and children under 5 also go free (although over the summer holiday this is extended to under 16’s with a paying adult), so for 6 of us, only 2 of us had to pay the £11.85 entrance fee. Which, apart from food and petrol, makes for a very affordable day out.
The gardens are huge and there really is lots to see and do. In fact, despite arriving by midday (grrrr M25), and not leaving until the gates were closing behind us, there was still lots more we didn’t see or do.
As you enter, the perfectly manicured lawns and keep off the grass signs, made me doubt the sense in coming, but turning the corner, past the manor house I was immediately reassured as a massive lawn stretched out before us, dotted with children playing and running around.
A large formal pond filled with fish and stunning plants led down to wilder and less formal gardens, large duckponds, more grassy areas with games laid out for families to play and a shelter with children’s entertainers, and through to the glasshouse which houses tropical and succulent plants that are simply stunning. There was also a fuschia and nature photography exhibition on show that made me more determined than ever to better my photographic skills!
On leaving the glasshouse, a path leads past the lake and up towards the jubilee arboretum and children’s play area. This is my favourite part of the garden, as it felt the most natural and I love trees and meadows.
From the edges of the arboretum, a winding path leads to the top of the fruit mount, perfumed with the apples growing on the trees that line it and providing spectacular views across the gardens and beyond from the viewing platform at the summit.
Back on level ground, we wandered past the orchards and fruit fields, past a wildflower meadow and herb garden. We ran up Battleston Hill to view the Henry Moore sculpture up close and then ran back down again (at twice the speed!).
There were model gardens that inspire, cottage gardens, rose gardens and mixed borders. All teeming with a fantastic mix of plantlife and flowers and busy with bees and butterflies. The children ran and danced and skipped until they were ready to drop and we all enjoyed ice creams and lunch and cake from the various eateries dotted about. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for the pinetum, but plan to visit again to explore the areas we missed or didn’t give enough attention to.
This is one formal garden that gets a big thumbs up from me as being not only family friendly, but positively child-embracing. A truly wonderful day out for all ages with every need catered for. If you can, go. Take a camera, take the kids, have fun and be inspired.
I’m linking up with Mammasaurus for her How Does Your Garden Grow linky even though this isn’t my garden or even close to being my garden! Click the image below to discover more wonderful gardens to explore.