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Jim Gardiner

Jim Gardiner Director of Horticulture RHS Garden Wisley

Jim Gardiner is the recently appointed Director of Horticulture for the Royal Horticultural Society and has previously been Curator and Chief Curator based at Wisley for over twenty years. Before that he was Curator at the Hillier Gardens and Arboretum. His primary interest is in woody plants, in particular Magnolias on which he has written two books, “Magnolias, their Care and Cultivation” and “Magnolias, A Gardener’s Guide”.

  • Date Joined: 12 Jul 2007

Recent Comments

Marvellous May at home and away

Posted by Jim Gardiner on 13 May 2009 at 10:19 PM

It's damp at Wisley as I write, but I'm sure the sun will return.  To be honest, I'm out in China at the moment, at a Magnolia symposium.  It has brought all the world's experts together for a unique event, with field trips to Nankinsham in Guangdong Province, before more to Shixi and Lushan in Jiangxi Province. Although at low levels, I have seen many familiar plants including Cornus kousa var. chinensis, and also Bretschneidera, a plant that I haven't seen before.


Back at home, the Wisley Cornus grove is yet to come into full glory, but the area is currently a sea of blue from camassias.  They overlook a glorious view over the Alpine Meadow and Wild Garden, where the wisterias and rhododendrons enliven the area with a rainbow of colours.  Battleston Hill is positively glowing likewise.

I love this time of year for the exuberance of spring.  Oak trees are now in leaf and the first roses are in bloom. And the Floral team have been planting sweet peas around the base of homemade peastick pyramidal supports for the summer display of sweet peas and dahlias that will fill those beds that usually feature subtropical plants.


This is because the subtropical plants have been relocated just a little way away to the Maize Maze site.  We're having a pirate ship as a focal point this year, and we're setting the scene with bananas, cannas etc.


The Fruit and Trials teams have started sowing the sweetcorn for the maze, and we've installed some bird deterrents - we hope they scare them off, though I've heard reports of our local ducks waddling over the site! 

I hope you have a good week, despite the battering our gardens might receive.  At least we have the Chelsea Flower Show to look forward to, but even in gloomy weather, Wisley in May is simply too good to miss.


Selina Botham said:

Personally I love all the examples of garden designer's work there are now at Wisley.  The education garden was designed by Cleve West and is beautifully laid out and crafted. The shed has a sedum roof and there are raised beds for the children to see vegetables being grown.  A quiet area to sit and relax and little paths for children to follow through the planting.  The whole space is laid out in a really pleasing and balanced way.  

Then there are the Piet Oudolf Borders which I love, bold swaths of perennial planting hug the slope and feel like they want to flow across the wide grass path that separates them.  

Then there are the latest additions,  a triumph by Tom Stewart Smith who has designed the area surrounding the glass house and lake.  I don't know which came first, but the curves of paths and planting reflect perfectly the shape of the lake and the design and sculpting of the land works so well as a way of dealing with the level changes.  I also admire the way he has used solid blocks of hornbeam and softer grasses and perennials in square beds around the glass house and cafe.  This has the effect of making a more formal, actually quite grand but subtle and contemporary entry to this amazing new area.  Well done RHS Wisley.  What a treat a visit is and how fantastic to see what garden designers can do!  It seems that a good designer creates spaces that feel right, they fit the purpose they were intended for but they also connect with the land contours and with their surroundings be it the buildings they adjoin or the landscape beyond.

on 15 May 2009 at 11:57 AM