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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

Come see Wisley's wonderful Missouri meadow

Posted by Jim Gardiner on 01 Jul 2009 at 04:08 PM

It's truly summer now here at Wisley. In July the garden looks wonderful.  We have our Armed Forces Day flag prominently positioned on the Conifer Lawn, and the sweet peas and dahlia bed (where the Subtropical Borders usually are) are flowering well.  Day by day the self-sown annuals that form this year's Top Terrace bedding display are gradually coming into flower.  And in the Fruit Field the cornfield annuals are at their best.

Last year I told you about the prairie meadow we prepared on the far (western) side of the Glasshouse. Designed by Prof James Hitchmough from the Dept of Landscape, University of Sheffield in January 2008, the aim was to create a meadow-like planting with a long flowering season that could be maintained relatively easily and cheaply by RHS staff.    

Well, for the last few weeks this area has been looking prettier and prettier day by day.  It is simply beautiful.  Photographs do not do it justice, so I absolutely recommend you see it in person.  Fortunately, with the mix of 25 species of perennials, this prairie meadow should be looking outstanding throughout July and August, and well into September.


Most of the 25 species are from North America, with a few species from Europe and Asia. The majority form a ground layer of foliage, with the occasional medium and tall species, designed to minimise the ground level species from being shaded out.

Ground layer species
Penstemon cobaea and P. barbatus
Dracocephalum rupestre
Asclepias tuberosa
Oenothera tetragona
Dianthus carthusianorum
Phlox pilosa
Medium layer species
Echinacea pallida
Eryngium yuccifolium
Tall species
Silphium laciniatum and S. terebinthinaceum

We would love to know what you think of this low- (to no-) maintenance perennial meadow, and hope you get the opportunity to wander through it and admire it for yourselves this summer. 

And you can come to learn more about creating your own perennial meadow at our Perennial Seeding Day at Wisley on September 10th.  Watch this space for more information on how to book your place...

James Hitchmough


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