First Details of RHS Garden Wisley Master Plan announced

Tuesday 12 April 2016

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has revealed its aspirational plans for its flagship garden, RHS Garden Wisley. World-class landscape architect Christopher Bradley-Hole, who was appointed to develop the horticultural masterplan in November, has unveiled his initial proposals for developing the much-loved RHS garden.

Key elements of the vision include:

- A theatrical arrival walk possibly planted with flowering cherries creating a sense of drama for visitors
- There will be a new garden in front of Wisley’s world-famous science Laboratory. As part of the plans, the Laboratory will be revealed for the first time to the public
- The creation of a ‘village square’ next to the new Welcome Building
- Three new gardens will surround the new Science and Learning Centre

RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, says: “These plans are at their embryonic stages and may evolve, but we’re very excited to be able to share the vision for our flagship garden. This strong vision sets a clear way forward for us to enhance RHS Garden Wisley’s reputation as one of the best, horticulturally-significant and most welcoming gardens in the world.”

Christopher Bradley-Hole says: “For over a century, Wisley has epitomised all that is best in horticulture and drawn gardeners of all kinds through its unique breadth of display. I have loved it since childhood. It was my visits there that brought me into gardening. This is an opportunity to bring the garden into sharper focus, to polish and optimise its existing treasures and to create new features to ensure that Wisley remains the nation’s premier centre for horticulture well into next century.”

To heighten the sense of arrival at RHS Garden Wisley, visitors will cross the car park to the garden across a serpentine swale that will capture water draining from the car park and be a haven for flora and fauna.

This leads to a shoal-like expanse of asymmetric beds of shrubs, clipped into undulating effect, and small trees. Beyond this, visitors will be greeted by the new vista of the science Laboratory, which is currently obscured by the shop and visitor entrance. The new view will be fronted by gently steeped lawns, in keeping with the building’s Arts and Crafts elegance, and academic heritage.

A walk most-likely to be planted with flowering cherries will form the first of Wisley’s major new horticultural ‘coups de théâtre’. Not just a pathway, but a grove and a place for sitting and strolling, this axis of spectacular blossom and foliage will act as a spectacular welcome to visitors and build anticipation of the pleasures ahead.

To the right of the cherry walk will be a new Welcome Building, embracing a large paved courtyard, which will function as a village square, where visitors can meet, sit, talk, drink and eat. It will be a bright and busy space that will host flower shows, demonstrations and temporary displays.

A new Hilltop Science and Learning Centre will be the scientific centre of excellence in horticultural science and learning, enabling scientists and researchers to address some of the key horticultural challenges of the 21st century and share this knowledge UK-wide.

Around the Hilltop building will be three new gardens devoted to the science and benefits of horticulture. A Garden of Health and Wellbeing will be a strikingly modern interpretation of Europe’s earliest physic gardens, where medicinal plants were grown in ranks of rectangular beds.

The World Kitchen Garden will show the pick of the planet’s vast menu of edible plants, and how best to cultivate and use them. It will be burgeoning with fruit, vegetables and culinary herbs from British staples to exotic crops, and from heritage cultivars to those so novel and strange they have yet to reach our tables.

Finally, The Nature Garden will explore the natural processes and cycles that occur in gardens and how cultivated gardening can work with and complement the wild. The garden will act as an education in natural history and in environmental sensitivity, and show that a wild garden need not be a wilderness.

Visits to RHS Garden Wisley have increased over the past decade from 750,000 to over a million each year. The RHS has committed to creating better facilities in the Garden to meet this increase in popularity as part of a 10 year, £160m investment in its vision to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.

All plans are subject to planning permission and may evolve as the garden develops.


Notes to editors

Christopher Bradley-Hole created six Gold medal-winning Chelsea Flower Show gardens, two of which were awarded best in show. As well as designing large private gardens he was recently responsible for several civic-space projects including a new public landscape for the BBC at White City and a new square and courtyards for Highbury Stadium, the former Arsenal football ground converted to a residential scheme. He is the author of Making the Modern Garden and The Minimalist Garden.

For more information, please contact the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3043, email or call Caroline Craig on 0207 821 3177.

Images of RHS Garden Wisley are available on PhotoShelter. Registration is a simple process and free of charge. Please contact to gain access.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows, through our scientific research, website, publications, libraries, education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants. We’re committed to promoting the value of gardens, demonstrating how gardening is good for us and explaining the vital roles that plants play in a sustainable world.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters.
RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a
healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262