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Wisley's Alpine Diary

This entry: 12 February 2009 by Paul Cumbleton

Log 41

Wisley's Alpine Log

By Paul Cumbleton

Log 41...12 February 2009

Last week?s snow was the heaviest remembered at Wisley for many years. Some of our valiant team ? Chris, left, then Chloe, Lucie and Suguru  - demonstrate this when you realise it comes to the top of their  wellingtons! The snow turned the garden    into?..sorry, it?s just the obvious   alliteration to use?.Wisley?s Winter Wonderland! The Rock Garden was almost unrecognisable


Many trees had impressive coatings of snow over their branches, with the evergreens looking particularly beautiful.

But the deciduous trees also shone in their own ways.

This effect was enhanced on those with coloured bark to offer such as this willow:

Some well-known views in the garden were transformed by the snow. Here we are looking across the Rock Garden to The Glasshouse?.


…. and here The Glasshouse again looking from near the top of the fruit mound:

The view along the canal to the main laboratory building was equally magical:

Elsewhere, some curious effects were created. This statue of Pan looked for all the world like he was wearing a judges wig:

Where the sun was low in the sky, long shadows played across the snow on Weather Hill:

While captivated at the scenery, the snow did of course bring its problems. The garden had to close for a day while it was all hands on deck to clear paths and make the garden safe for our visitors. Staff from every department in the garden joined together in teams to do the shovelling:

Where space allowed of course we used machinery to ease the load:

Shovelling snow is hard work so despite freezing temperatures, layers of clothing soon started to be discarded.

Earlier I showed how lovely the trees looked, but snow on trees is also problematic because the weight can break or split branches.  Some of us are trained in basic tree surveying, so I joined that team to help survey all the trees in the garden to see where branches had come down and, more importantly, where there were split or hanging branches yet to fall. These pose a danger to anyone walking under them, so we needed to know where they were. Dozens were found meaning weeks of work ahead for our arbour team. This means one or two areas of the garden will remain closed until they can be made safe, but gladly the vast majority of the garden is open for everyone to enjoy.


Ten days on and almost all the snow has gone. Throughout the time it was with us there was still colour to be found amongst the white, especially of course indoors. The alpine house right now looks really wonderful with brilliant displays of Crocus, Cyclamen, Narcissus, Tecophilea and many others:

Finally, some of you may remember that last year we had our? Hepatica Spectacular? event, when we filled the alpine house entirely with Hepatica and hosted a study day to learn more about them. Sadly, we cannot repeat that this year, but visitors can still see a good selection of these brilliant plants amongst the other flowers on display in the house. Also, for those who are planning to attend the AGS early spring show at Harlow on the 28th February, we will be mounting a small Hepatica display there too, so do come along if you can make it, have a chat with me and others from the Wisley alpine team and see more of these plants close up. Hope to see you there!

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