Thursday, March 21, 2013

A bucketful of dirt

March 17th; St Patrick’s Day – so in the true tradition of the Emerald Isle and its 40 shades of green (not a bit like those Shades of Grey the world’s womenfolk have been getting the knickers in a twist about) it rained most of the day!     

About 10:00 am, I headed off with my brother to Wisley Gardens, about 20 miles up the A3 towards London. Wisely is one of a small handful of beautiful facilities maintained by the RHS – the Royal Horticultural Society. In spite of the weather – it either threatened rain, or succeeded in that effort for the better part of the 3 hours or more that we spent walking around the gardens – it was most enjoyable. My brother estimated that we had walked more than 2 miles around the numerous pathways between the thousands of species of flowers, shrubs and trees in the ever-changing beauty of this place alongside the rain-swollen River Wey.

Most prominent at this time of year are the millions of white, yellow and purple crocuses and Wordsworth’s favorite, ‘a host of golden daffodils’. We passed other flowers that I do not believe are to be found in the St Louis area of the US, but may occur in milder climes – such as Oregon or Washington. The sights from my past were the snowdrops and primroses.

The very large greenhouse houses plants from several different climatic zones and so not surprisingly it exhibits various forms of cacti in one place

and vibrant orchids in another.

In the summer, the place is reportedly awash with butterflies, whilst outside, hundreds of ‘stock’ and hybrid roses adorn the gardens.

One section of Wisley is devoted to dozens of types of conifers. All sizes, shapes and shades of green – including the infamous ‘Monkey Puzzle Tree’ - abound there.

Every individual tree, whether evergreen or deciduous, is marked either with its ‘botanic name’ or with a numbered tag. Visitors can purchase a booklet in which each ‘tag number’ may be found to obtain information, including the ‘common’ name, for the thousands of labeled trees, as well as for each labeled shrub or flower. Wisely also contains ponds which in summer abound with koi and ducks. Bonsai, a Chinese Pagoda, cacti and tropical plants in the greenhouse, lend a truly global atmosphere to this place.

A wish I could fill my bucket with the rich dirt of Wisley and the velvet-like mosses than thrive on the kind of dampness that was in the air this day. Sadly, such a humble but beautiful plant would not survive the harshness of St Louis’ cold winters – or the searing heat of its summers.   

To be continued . . .

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