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 (

Wisley wonders

1. Penstemon 'Mother of Pearl'

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

2. Succisella 'Frosted Pearls'

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

3. Alstroemeria ptsittacina

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

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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas