A gem of a library

Wisley Garden Library – ten years of information, inspiration and ideas

The garden library at RHS Wisley just after it opened back in 2004The Wisley Garden Library is celebrating ten years as a resource of information and ideas, helping to inspire all garden visitors to discover more about gardens, garden history and design, plants, and anything and everything about gardening.

“Thanks for the loan of books – the inspiration has transformed our garden”

Opened in 2004 by Roy Lancaster and Nigel Colborn, the Garden Library greatly expanded a smaller reference library, in rooms which used to be part of Wisley’s student accommodation. The collection of books and gardening magazines was enlarged and enriched, giving visitors the best open access library on gardening in the country.

“What a wonderful asset for gardeners”

The personal library of great plantsman Graham Stuart Thomas, who lived in Horsell, formed the beginnings of the library’s reference collection. Many of his books were gifts from the authors and have lovely personal inscriptions.

“Wonderful! It gave me a lot of ideas”

Engraved plate from J G Grohmann's 'Ideenmagazin' published between 1797-1803, which provided inspiration for some of the wallpaper in the libraryThe wallpaper and curtains are from a decorator’s collection by Zoffany, developed from artwork licensed from the Lindley Library Art Collection. The pale carpet has done amazingly well over the years, given the inevitable mud, leaves and unfortunate slugs that find their way in.

As well as the books you’d expect in a gardening library, you’ll also find the unexpected. There are cookery books; flower arranging books; poetry books; novels; biographies; diaries; letters; embroidery books – even a few knitting books! All have a connection to plants and gardening. Though I know the library well, every time I browse the shelves I’ll find something fascinating.

“A treasure trove and excellent help”

The library is open to everyone, and lends to RHS members. We also have a tempting selection of secondhand gardening books to buy and a programme of small displays. Do come along for a browse…

“Splendid resource to complement the gardens” “My favourite place to be at Wisley”

Gaynor Messenger, Library Manager
With thanks to all our visitors for their lovely comments in our visitors book, and to all our wonderful volunteers for their invaluable support.

RHS members can borrow from the thousands of gardening books held in the Lindley Libraries – visit our online catalogue
Even if you are not an RHS member, the Lindley Libraries are open to everyone and provide access to modern collections of books and journals on gardening and related topics. Our heritage collections of rare books, photographs, art and archives are accessible by appointment.

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We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.