RHS Wisley has gorgeous borders if only those 12ft begonia eyesores would give them a chance to shine

My mum and I are in the car park at Wisley, the RHS's flagship garden just off the A3 in Surrey, trying to work out how to find our way to the ticket counter. The car park comprises vast acres of tarmac in compensatory acres of Lord of the Rings woodland glade, criss-crossed by a slightly confusing network of paths. Since last I visited, the car park has been organised with highly tasteful dividing lines, gauzy ribbons of verbena bonariensis, wheaten grasses and pale yellow daylilies. We begin to feel optimistic that we are in for a good day just wandering its ranks.

And then, through the greenery, we both spot something orange. Not something small, either. More like two traffic cones stolen from a drunken night out on the town by Shrek's gigantic girlfriend. They are actually luminescing at us through the trees. As we get closer, we realise that the traffic cones really are gigantic. Each one is about 12ft high. And each is made up of hundreds of begonia plants in various shades of orange and yellow. And here are our fellow visitors, marvelling at them. "Ooh, I don't know how they've done that," one remarks, walking round it, studying the planting up close. ("Oooh, I don't know why they've done that," my mum and I wonder.) No one is marvelling at the gorgeous borders in the car park. They've been blinded by the begonia homing beacons.

The summer holidays do generally mark the disappearance of anything conventionally tasteful from the garden, it's true. These months rev up a display of red, orange and yellow plants for which sunglasses might sensibly be prescribed. Daylilies, red-hot pokers and dahlias all have their contribution to make on the gaudy front. But it must be possible without resorting to begonias, surely? They aren't even nice begonias, such as "Bonfire", with its little orange flowers and ivy-shaped leaves. They are great big tuberous ones with blooms the colour of cycling bibs.

Luckily, our visit does become more tasteful as it goes on, even for a pair of fusspots as my mum and me. In the long borders leading uphill, the gardeners try to restrain themselves, with cannas and dahlias in bronzed tones. Elsewhere, though, the full firepower of August is on show. On the lawn by the Conservatory Café, daylilies, including "Berlin Red" – a real stonker; dinner-plate-sized Achilleas in rape-seed yellow; and red-hot pokers in tones just slightly more muted than the full orange special we're used to. Though if I didn't know they were plants beyond the realms of good taste, I might be tempted to say "Apricot Sky", and "Maid of Orleans" are both almost verging on pretty.

Wisley is open Monday to Friday 10am-6pm, and weekends 9am-6pm (www.rhs.org.uk)

Grandly garish

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Famous and ubiquitous for a reason: it's a great, hard- working plant, with gigantic stems six inches taller than most other crocosmias, bearing deep blood-orange flowers that look as though they are dripping juice. £5.99, crocus.co.uk

Achillea filipendulina 'Cloth of Gold'

Tasteful when planted with paler creams and whites, but a real, colourful point of punctuation in a border of hot colours. £6.49 crocus.co.uk

Echinacea 'Tomato Soup'

They didn't mess around when they were naming this. Bright red, whichever way you look at it. If you deadhead it properly, you should have its Heinz- like hues in the garden almost until Bonfire Night. £8.99, crocus.co.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Buyer / Planner

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity has ar...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager

£40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity working ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Journals Manager

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The prime focus of the role is to assist...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks