New Wisley gardens by SGD Members

Ann-Marie Powell MSGD’s design for the Wildlife Garden at Wisley. Photo: Wilkinson Eyre

Top designers take on designs for RHS flagship garden

The RHS has officially issued details of three new gardens for RHS Garden Wisley by Ann-Marie Powell MSGD and Matt Keightley MSGD.

Their ‘living laboratories’ are designed to reflect the RHS’s standing as a world leader in horticultural science. The Wellbeing, Wildlife and World Food Gardens, which will open in 2020, are planned for the areas around the new National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning on Wisley hilltop, and will help visitors see how horticultural science impacts on their everyday lives.

Keightley’s ‘Wellbeing Garden’ will be a series of outdoor rooms, enticing visitors to explore the many ways gardens can be used for physical and psychological therapy, natural health care, or simply for relaxation. Working alongside RHS scientists to explore the impact of the spaces on our senses and emotions, the garden will highlight the importance of connecting with nature and demonstrate the link between gardens and good health.

“We have an exceptional opportunity to inspire the nation,” he said, “and provide a platform that will encourage visitors to consider how gardens and gardening can help to improve general health and mental wellbeing. What better way to move forward than to look back and remember the reason Wisley was first acquired by the RHS, to be used as a trials and testing facility. The results could be ground breaking.”

Keightley’s ‘Wellbeing Garden’ will highlight how gardens can be used as therapy. Photo: Wilkinson Eyre

Powell’s ‘Wildlife Garden’ draws inspiration from the familiar natural environments of the British Isles, showcasing the association between nature and gardens, and the importance of including plant diversity that supports British wildlife, especially declining species. It will also focus on the role that trees, hedges, plants and water features have in cooling the atmosphere and mitigating the effects of flooding.

The ‘World Food Garden’ will be a contemporary plot-to-plate experience that echoes traditional designs of large vegetable gardens but uses new innovations that will show visitors how to create a healthy wildlife ecosystem and nurture a bountiful vegetable patch at home. Powell said: “We want to create energetic, diverse and inspiring garden environments which not only please aesthetically, but teach and inform in an approachable, accessible way – no matter a visitor’s culture, age, horticultural interest or experience.”

As part of Christopher Bradley-Hole FSGD’s horticultural masterplan for Wisley, the RHS is committing £120m to the whole project, and hoping to raise £40m from supporters to build the National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning and the surrounding gardens. With this aim, the charity has launched The RHS Wisley Appeal: Build a Greener Future to raise £2m.