RHS Garden Wisley is entering a period of exciting transformation as part of our major Strategic Investment Programme.
Once complete, three major hubs - a new welcome building, new centre for horticultural science and learning, and a transformation of the existing Laboratory building - will enhance the visitor experience, helping us achieve our vision to enrich everyone's life through plants, while remaining a centre for horticultural excellence.
International landscape architect designs our world-class garden
To help us develop the Wisley masterplan, the RHS is delighted to have on board one of the world’s best landscape architects, Christopher Bradley-Hole who will be designing the new arrival area.
Plans are still at an early stage but initial concepts include an arrival walk and grove, creating a sense of drama for visitors with spectacular blossom and foliage. They will then be greeted by the new vista of the much-loved Grade II listed Laboratory building, currently obscured by the shop and visitor entrance.
A stylish new welcome building will unite all visitor facilities in one space, including membership areas, state-of-the-art plant centre, an expanded gift and book shop, cafe and a new restaurant.
A new home for Wisley Garden Library
The Wisley Garden Library will be the first of many moves as part of the improvements. Currently located in Aberconway House (home to more than 70 RHS employees), the Library is moving to Gardiners’ House and making way for the new visitor welcome building.
Gill Briggs, Deputy Head of RHS Libraries explained: “We’re really excited about welcoming visitors to Gardiners’ House where we will be showcasing our collections including nearly 2,500 books on a rotating, themed basis. Although we won’t have all our stock out on the shelves, if specific items are requested we will do our best to retrieve them as quickly as possible.
“We’ll also be refining our collections with a view to creating an excellent selection for the new RHS Wisley Research Library due to open in 2020.”
Gardiners’ House will be the temporary home of the Library until 2020 when it will move permanently to the new Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning.
If you have visited during winter 2016-17, you will have noticed a few areas of construction, including a new Barn building, near the main car park. This will become an efficient and modern future home to more than 70 RHS employees, relocating from Aberconway House.
Other works have included the installation of new drainage, power, gas, water, data cabling and IT infrastructure, all of which required the digging and filling in of trenches, and improvements to many garden paths to make them more accessible.
Watch this space...
- After Easter, we’re installing hoarding around the construction site on the edge of Seven Acres.
- Visitors will be invited to see the planned improvements across RHS Garden Wisley in a new behind-the-scenes exhibition experience on Seven Acres – opening after Easter.
- In April, the new Barn - an efficient and modern future home for over 70 RHS employees - is due to be completed.
Click through the presentation below to see a map and details of how we are growing RHS Garden Wisley for the future.
Centre for Horticultural Science & Learning: A UK first
A Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, built on the garden’s Hilltop area, will contain state-of-the-art-scientific laboratories, extensive public exhibition space, activities space for lectures, teaching studios as well as new facilities for our nationally important Herbarium, science and library collections.
It will be surrounded by three gardens that focus on globally important issues:
- Health and Wellbeing, with a focus on mental health and wellbeing
- A World Kitchen Garden showing how connected we are to the natural world through our food
- Garden Nature Reserve, demonstrating how gardens are vital for wildlife, people and pollinators
Restoring the Laboratory
The garden’s Laboratory building, which dates from 1916 and includes old botanical labs, the original lecture theatre and an Herbarium, will be converted and restored, with part of the ground floor opened to the public for the first time as an art gallery and museum space.
Help us make history at Wisley
Planning permissions are being sought but we hope to start work on the new welcome building in autumn 2016 and the science centre in 2017.
This major project is being made possible thanks to our reserves and commercial activities but we are also seeking to raise £12.8m from external donors and our members to help build the new Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning and refurbish the historic Laboratory building.
How you can make a difference
There are many ways you can support our work to safeguard the future of horticulture, including volunteering, donating to projects and becoming an RHS Fellow.