One of the first questions I asked Row was if Wisley was considered London. She replied, "No... Surrey, darling!" With this answer I knew I would like where we were headed.
Surrey is, well, darling. Row and I have been running around to all the villages, and cities, and towns (there is a difference between each of these I just can't figure out what. Cathedrals are involved). I got a British phone, bank account, student rail card, and the best tour of Surrey county in the process. If you have seen the Holiday (raise your hand if you were my college roommate), it looks exactly like all the places Jude Law and Cameron Diaz galavanted around in the movie. I realize this is my second time to talk about Surrey, but I am in love.
Moving on. Let's talk about RHS Wisley. First, there is the office where Row works, and it is filled with the most knowledgeable horticulturalists. Also, they offer me tea every time I walk in. Maybe the sensation of that will wear off, but right now it makes me feel like a Brit. Secondly, the garden is enormous. I believe there are over 80 full time gardeners + 100 volunteers gardening the 250 acre garden. And I mean a really intense garden with beds packed to the brim and borders spilling over with the season's best perennials. Right now is the Wisley Flower Show where over 70 tents are set up showcasing the newest plants, tools, apparel, ornaments, and really anything you can think of that has to do with gardening. Each day 10,000 people pour in to Wisley. My favorite part so far was the "Free Gardening Advice" tent which always has a long queue (Brit for line). I love how much this country loves their gardens, it's infectious. I also love that everywhere you look people are carrying several pots of plants in their arms, headed back to their own gardens with their bounty. Often you will just spot a Japanese Maple or bright purple Salvia bobbing above the crowd.
The past two days I have been rotating with the herbaceous team. The first day we weeded a border that was designed by Piet Oudolf, my planting design hero and arguably one of the best plantsmen in the world. I was deep into this border... underneath shrubs and wading through grasses. It was spectacular and messy, and I had all kinds of fun things in my hair by the end of the day. Those are the best kinds of days.
Today, I spent the day weeding a border designed my Tom Stuart Smith and different border designed my James Hitchmough. I have listened to both of these men lecture on podcasts, read their books, and learned from their work. But today I was waist deep in their designs, on my hands and knees face to face with their visions. I do not think there is a better way to learn!
I am rusty on my Latin after a couple of years in the design world, but I am carrying a note pad in my pocket and feverishly writing down all the Latin that fellow gardeners spout off. I have so much to learn, but that is the best part.
Cheerio from Surrey, darling.