Bradley-Hole RHS Wisley landscaping to transform "service station" feeling

The new entrance at RHS Wisley garden in Surrey is to change from "an arrival space people meet that may as well be standing outside a service station on the A3" to a "coups de theatre" with a 175m Japanese-style avenue of flowering cherries surrounded by dunescape, swail and piazza.

Designer Christopher Bradley-Hole said the current entrance "gives you nothing" but a £50m plan to build a new entrance/shop and science/education building will transform the garden.

Bradley-Hole said the flowering "coups de theatre" cherry walk would be like Kyoto in Japan. He likened the avenue to the streets of Chelsea in London. There will also be a ‘village square’ next to the new welcome building/shop designed by architects Carmody Groake he said would be like St Emilion in France and a terrace in front of the historic laboratory building which would have a college atmosphere.

At Hilltop on the other side of Wisley Gardens, Wilkinson Eyre are designing a new science and learning centre with restaurant. Bradley-Hole is designing three gardens around it, based on health and well-being, world kitchen and a nature reserve.

Funding of £160m for Strategic Innovation Projects will need £40m to be raised by members. Some £55m will come from resources, some of which came from selling the lease to RHS Horticulture Halls. There is an expected £65m surplus at £7.5m year factored in. Some £30m will go on initial works at RHS Bridgewater, where Tom Stuart-Smith is embarking on a 10-year restoration plan. Salford Council is giving £19m.

RHS director general Sue Biggs said: "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."

Bradley-Hole said: "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."

The carpark serpentine swale will capture water draining from the car park.

Closer to the building will be beds of shrubs, clipped into undulating effect, and small trees.

The current shop and visitor entrance will go, opening up the arts and crafts laboratory building, which will be fronted by "gently steeped lawns".


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