Last chance to see autumn’s colourful display

THE wonderful open spaces at the RHS Garden Wisley remain open for visitors to enjoy their fresh air and exercise during the new lockdown.

Thanks to the recent weather conditions, the most-dazzling displays of autumn colour seen in years are lasting longer than normal, says the Royal Horticultural Society – but the best of it could be over in days.

Foliage glowing in the autumn sunshine, as many trees and shrubs as the autumn spectacle continues

Plenty of sun and rain through July and August followed by a hot September and a mild, wet October have also extended the flowering season for perennials like asters, salvias, nerines, daises and cyclamen.

This means gardens have been awash with purples, pinks, whites and blues, while trees and shrubs like acers, maples, conifers and oaks produce vivid reds, yellows and oranges.

The RHS says its gardens are offering a vital safe sanctuary for the public to safeguard their mental and physical health during the pandemic.

At Wisley, the large outside spaces can be enjoyed safely by visitors with the measures that have been in place since reopening in June, including limits on visitor numbers.

However, enclosed areas including the Glasshouse and cafes have had to close in line with the new restrictions. The takeaway vans will be available to purchase refreshments to consume in the open air and the play area remains open.

Spectacular displays can still be seen in the rockery garden at the RHS Wisley

The curator at RHS Wisley, Matt Pottage, says: “Our towering conifers with their classic oranges, reds and yellows are sinking into carpets of pretty pink cyclamen and nerines. The white lespedeza, or bush clovers, are coming into flower, white and purple passion flowers are looking exquisite and even the roses are still out.”

RHS chief horticulturalist Guy Barter added: “I’ve not seen the RHS gardens look so colourful at this time of year for some time. Extremes in frost or wind could bring an end to some of the displays but, thankfully, the gardens will always be beautiful.”

To avoid crowding at the entrance, it is still necessary to pre-book a time slot for arrival online at However, the Wisley garden centre is staying open and you can visit that without having to book.

The rules for visits to the gardens are that you can be with the people you live with, with your support bubble or, when on your own, one person from another household. Under-fives and people dependent on round-the-clock care are not counted towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

The RHS is awaiting further government advice and clarification on whether it can run its Glow illuminations event at Wisley and open for the display in the evenings, as it has done for several years.

For the latest information on opening times or to book an entrance slot, visit

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