Our new World Food Garden at RHS Wisley displays fruit, vegetables and herbs grown together for the first time at Wisley. The garden provides nearly 1 acre of edible planting and links directly to the new National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre.
The RHS has a significant history of edible growing at the RHS Wisley, and have grown fruit and vegetables in model gardens since the 1950s, along side large scale fruit growing in the orchard. We worked closely with the extremely knowledgeable Edibles Team at Wisley to create a world leading garden designed to inspire visitors to get growing in their own gardens, whatever the size. We were asked to design a garden that would celebrate the diversity of food we can grow in the UK and the people who grow it, and which honours the history of edible growing at the RHS.
Our design, inspired by the vascular bundles in a plant stems allows the beds to be quite small and free-form, creating intimate spaces and quiet corners where visitors feel comfortable enough to take time to study the plants.
Like many traditional kitchen gardens, the World Food Garden at Wisley is fully surrounded by a wildlife proof boundary. We wanted to use this boundary to show off the creative skill of the Edibles Team – and designed the panels to support 75 selections of trained fruit including apples, pears, gages, nectarines and peaches. In a spirit of friendly competition, each member of the Edibles Team will be able to put their own stamp on the garden, by training the fruit into beautiful intricate forms.
The garden is divided into 3 sections to showcase the talents and skill of the RHS Edibles team whilst sharing their inspiration and expertise to demonstrate the benefits of growing, cooking and eating, emphasising their importance in both physical and mental health.
The central ‘Good to Grow’ area is a contemporary spin on the traditional vegetable plot, with a striking central ring of espaliered fruit trees around a circular pond, reminiscent of dipping ponds found in traditional walled kitchen gardens. The RHS will use these beds to highlight easy-to-grow crops to inspire beginners.
The Edible Flowers and Herbs Garden is linked directly to the new café in the National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre. It is planted with a rich tapestry of cropable blooms, providing visitors with the complete plot to plate experience as they sit immersed in edible planting.
The final section is the World Food Maze which features raised beds filled with exotic crops that are a staple of multicultural Britain, spilling from beds and clambering over arches, all of which (some surprisingly) can be grown in the UK climate.
The three sections are linked together by a wide central axis of arched pergolas festooned with edible climbers including brightly coloured squashes and exotic passion flowers.
RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, says:
“We are absolutely thrilled to have Ann-Marie on board to help shape the future of RHS Garden Wisley and excited to see her innovative ideas come to life. Since its very first days under the care of RHS, Wisley has been at the forefront of education in horticulture. Ann-Marie’s designs will provide an easily accessible source of inspiration and learning for all who visit”.