The Water Lilies of Wisley

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden at Wisley in Surrey is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year. It is home to some of the largest plant collections anywhere in the world. With decorative gardens, an arboretum, glasshouses and water features; Wisley opens its doors to hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Water-Lily-2-flowers The Water Lilies of Wisley

RHS Wisley also offers education for gardeners of all ages, and the beautifully maintained gardens serve as an inspiration in terms of design and cultivation. A beautiful Grade II Listed Building is home to the ‘Laboratory’, which is used for scientific research and horticultural training.

Water-Lily-3-flowers The Water Lilies of Wisley

In front of this picturesque property is the ‘Canal’, a large formal pool that has been carefully-planted with many varieties of a most exotic and sought-after water plant.

The water lilies of Wisley spring into life in July. Beneath the warmth of a summer sun they can quickly transform from tight bulbs into open blooms. On the day I visited, I was treated to a magnificent floral display that ranged from lemony hues to raspberry tones.

Water-Lily-4-flowers The Water Lilies of Wisley

Water-Lily-5-flowers The Water Lilies of Wisley

Dragonflies were glinting in the sunshine as they darted between the flowers (far too quickly for me to catch with my camera…)

Each section of the canal has been carefully planted with different varieties of water lily – and each variety is easily identifiable by a little plaque that rests amongst the lily pads.

Water-Lily-6-flowers The Water Lilies of Wisley

Staring at the patches of colour emerging from the sparkling water, I found it easy to see why French Impressionist painters – especially Monet – were so captivated by these colourful blooms. In fact Monet painted an entire series of 250 oil paintings entitled Water Lilies or Nymphéas – dedicated to the water lilies in his own garden at Giverny in France.

Water-Lily-7-flowers The Water Lilies of Wisley

The bejewelled canal is currently presided over by ‘King and Queen’, a bronze sculpture cast by Henry Moore in 1953.

Water-Lily-8-flowers The Water Lilies of Wisley

I can highly recommend a visit to this lovely garden – and if you do happen to get there in July, you will undoubtedly be treated to a visual feast of water lilies

Water-Lily-10-flowers The Water Lilies of Wisley

Written by Sarah Rees

Environmental Scientist, presenter and keen wildlife photographer; Sarah is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. With a background in television production, she launched her online Forestwatch videos to celebrate the diversity of woodland wildlife and ancient trees.


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  1. Beautiful water lilies. My favorite flowers, enjoy them on walks around the Ross river and in Anderson Park, one of three Botanical Gardens in Townsville. Wonderful old building and grounds, would be a pleasure to visit I’m sure.

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