The unfamiliar is all around Wisley this year

What on earth did gardeners do before smartphones? Here we are, on a glorious late-summer Monday morning at RHS Wisley, and we're walking along the flower beds taking photos of the stupendous planting, tapping in the plant labels and looking up the varieties on the mobile internet. There's something to be said for this approach, as opposed to the old-fashioned notebook (which some here are still brandishing as a sort of outré gesture of faith towards outmoded techniques). In the words of a fellow visitor: "I've got the name of what it is and the image of what it looks like in the same place, so I can actually find it."

There's good reason to record the names on this gorgeous morning, too, because the Wisley gardeners have outdone themselves this year in planting a conversation-starter of a border. The plants are drawing people in for a gawp, and then playing matchmaker in holy horticultural matrimonies all around us as we ponder how exactly you might grow any of it at home. These are some seriously obscure and delightfully novel plants. Chelone obliqua? I'm being honest now: I'd never even heard of it before today. Christopher Lloyd, the man who made Great Dixter great, once trenchantly described Chelone as "faintly" resembling penstemons, "in a disagreeable shade between pink and mauve", but at Wisley their unusual flowerbuds and soft, upright, hibiscus-y flowers are very appealing.

Or here's another RHS special: Anisodontea capensis. Sometimes called Cape African-queen, it has a soft upright growth like a lavatera, pretty, slightly indented leaves and rose-pink flowers with deeper pink centres. And how about the strong colours of that supermarket favourite Alstroemeria brasiliensis, but with a far weirder style of flower? Take a walk around the plant centre as you leave for hundreds more unusual things to grow (unless your bank balance is in question, in which case, leave hurriedly).

To add to all this floral magnificence, next weekend Wisley hosts its annual flower show, adding to the numbers of things on sale by thousands. A big tent is put up, among lots of other dinky little stalls, and you can peruse some of the nation's finest nurseries, which will bring their prettiest and best.

The only drawback is the traffic, which can stretch back onto the A3. My tip is either to go late on (it's open till 6pm and generally empties out well before then – last entry is at 5pm) or book the new breakfast preview ticket, for which you get a full English breakfast, pastries, and most importantly, exclusive 8am entry. The perfect gift for a gardener! These can only be bought in advance, and must be done before Wednesday: £20 for members, £29.50 for everyone else.

The Wisley Flower Show is on from Thursday to Sunday. RHS members go free; non-member adults £10.90. Call 0845 612 1253 to book ( rhs.org.uk)

Wisley wonders

1. Penstemon 'Mother of Pearl'

All penstemons are great, but this is completely stunning: truly shimmery. £7.50, burncoose.co.uk

2. Succisella 'Frosted Pearls'

Tiny white flowerheads on slender stems, almost like a scabious, but with that frosted effect. £5.50, hillviewhardyplants.com

3. Alstroemeria ptsittacina

A slightly bonkers take on a bog-standard favourite. Order from Avon for February despatch and planting Keep checking avonbulbs. co.uk for availability

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Sport
Super BowlAfter Katy Perry madness it's back to The Independent's live coverage of Super Bowl 49!
News
See what Twitter had to say about the first half of the Super Bowl
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch