New learning gardens revealed for RHS Wisley

Award-winning designers Ann-Marie Powell and Matt Keightley have revealed their designs for three new learning gardens around the planned new National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning on the Hilltop at RHS Garden Wisley, set to open in 2020.

The Wellbeing, Wildlife and World Food Gardens will act as ‘living laboratories’, to help visitors see how horticultural science has an impact on everyday life and discover the excitement, joy and wonder of connecting with nature.

Pictured above, Matt Keightley and Ann-Marie Powell

Visitors will be able to explore the many ways gardens can be used for physical and psychological therapy on Matt Keightley’s Wellbeing Garden, where a series of ‘garden rooms’ will open people’s eyes to the importance of connecting with nature. Matt points out that the garden is an exceptional opportunity to inspire the nation and provide a platform that will encourage visitors to consider how gardens and gardening can help improve general health and mental wellbeing: “What better way to move forward than to look back and remember the reason Wisley was first acquired by the RHS to be used as a trials and testing facility. The results could be ground breaking,” he said.

Ann-Marie Powell’s Wildlife Garden will draw inspiration from the familiar natural environments of the British Isles, demonstrating the association between nature and gardens. The importance of including a range of plant diversity which supports common British wildlife, especially declining species will be highlighted as well as the diversity of ecosystems thus showcasing the roles that trees, hedges, plants and water features have in cooling and mitigating against flooding and temperature extremes.

Pictured above: The Wellbeing Garden

Her World Food Garden will be a contemporary ‘plot to plate’ experience, inspired by the traditional large vegetable garden but using new innovations to invigorate and educate including a maze of edible discovery, complete with outdoor demonstration kitchen and a café garden.

Working closely with the knowledgeable teams at Wisley, Ann-Marie’s designs will be filled with take-home inspiration for encouraging a healthy wildlife ecosystem and nurturing a bountiful vegetable patch.

Ann-Marie said: “We want to create energetic, diverse and inspiring garden environments which not only please aesthetically, but teach and inform in an approachable, accessible way – no matter a visitor’s culture, age, horticultural interest or experience. I hope that these new gardens will exceed expectations as unique garden experiences to be enjoyed by all.”

Pictured above: The approach to the main entrance via The Wellbeing Garden

Director of Horticulture, Tim Upson said: “These three incredible gardens are a perfect demonstration of our commitment to inspiring everyone to grow for a better, greener future. They will act as a living embodiment of our new science centre, sharing the many benefits of gardening through beautiful, inspiring horticulture. We are revealing these gardens today to launch the public phase of our fundraising campaign.”

The gardens will form part of Christopher Bradley-Hole’s horticultural masterplan for RHS Garden Wisley and is part of the RHS’s long term investment programme in horticulture, committing £120 million from their own resources and raising £40 million from generous supporters.

The new National Centre for Horticultural Science and its surrounding gardens will help to bring visitors closer than ever to world-leading gardening science by demonstrating beautiful horticulture, best practice and cutting-edge research into the future challenges facing the UK’s 27 million gardeners.

The RHS Wisley Appeal: Build a Greener Future, is a public appeal to RHS members and supporters to raise £2 million towards the new Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning and these three incredible gardens.

Picture credits: banner ©RHS; Matt Keightley and Ann-Marie, pictured centre ©RHS, credit Oliver Dixon; The Wellbeing Garden ©WilkinsonEyre; Bottom image: The approach to the main entrance ©WilkinsonEyre.

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