Europe,  UK

3 Great Reasons to Visit RHS Wisley’s Hilltop Garden

Discover three of the best things to see and do at RHS Wisley’s newly opened Hilltop Garden.

With just five RHS Gardens available to visit across the UK, new features and areas are sure to be a huge draw, and the RHS Wisley Hilltop project is no different.

Billed as the ‘Home of Gardening Science’, this new area is full of exciting this to see and do, so read on to find out what to see at RHS Wisley and their new Hilltop Garden…

After more than a year of opening, closing and restricting visitors to gardens, the UK horticultural scene is no doubt thrilled that things are open again. And the long-awaited new Hilltop Garden at RHS Wisley offers an exciting new opportunity for a fun day out for the whole family.

How much does it cost to visit RHS Wisley?

An adult ticket is just £16.50 (including Gift Aid) and £8.20 for children aged 5-16 years. If you’re an RHS member, you and your guests go free.

All about RHS Wisley’s Hilltop Garden

Located within RHS Wisley in Surrey near Woking, Hilltop Garden is the UK’s first dedicated horticultural scientific centre of excellence and officially opened on 24 June 2021.

On entering the Hilltop building you come into a huge atrium full of interactive experiments on smell alongside live educational talks and a permanent exhibition about how gardening aids wellbeing. There’s also a café for a mid-garden coffee break and a stunning rooftop garden showing you the world below.

But that’s not all. Here are three exciting things to see and do at Hilltop:

1. Investigate the local wildlife

We all know how wildlife benefits from nature and vice versa, but the Wildlife Garden at Hilltop really brings it all to life.

If you visit during the warmer months, you’ll be surrounded by pollinators, bees and beautiful butterflies, as they make the most of the pollen and nectar-rich blooms and hover over the water.

In the cooler months, the gigantic birdcage in the centre of the wildlife garden is the one to watch (though it’s an attraction all year round too). The team at RHS Wisley keep it covered with good, fresh and nutritional bird food to attract feathered friends of all varieties for you to watch and admire.

The whole section of the garden is rich in wildlife and has loads of different species to see. So, on your visit, why not keep count of how many you can spot?

2. Explore some rarely grown greenery

The RHS herbarium has long been housed at RHS Wisley (since the early 1900s, in fact), but its new home is within the Hilltop Building. There are over 86,000 examples of flora stored there; some are now extinct, and others are incredibly rare.

But what is a herbarium? Well, it’s essentially a collection of flowers that botanists, students and researchers can access to learn more about the natural world. Basically, a herbarium is the history of plants in the UK.

The specimens at Hilltop and most other herbariums are dried and pressed for longevity and easier identification. However, you can view these rare and unique plants at the Hilltop Garden using their newly installed digitisation suite.

3. Travel through the World Food Garden

The World Food Garden might be the biggest kitchen garden you’ve ever seen. Flowing out from the atrium café, it has everything from herbs grown under protective netting to vegetables grown up obelisks and edible flowers!

You can find plants from all over the globe as well as different training and support to prove just how easy growing at home can be. The overall layout of this space is designed to inspire and encourage visitors to try growing for themselves:

  • The main section is full of annual and perennial edible treats with supporting pergolas and vegetables of all heights and varieties.
  • Sprouting off to the side are unusually shaped gardens much like roofs and other difficult spaces to show how growing your own can be done anywhere.
  • Finally, a food maze leads you around the world of food and all the different flavours and smells available.

It’s a unique, welcoming and diverse space that’s all about possibilities and demystifying gardening for amateurs and professionals alike. So, the World Food Garden is a must!

Looking for more inspiration? Well the Surrey Hills have some of the finest views available in south east England!

These are just three of the best things to see and do at RHS Wisley’s Hilltop Garden, but there is plenty more to see as well. For one, there’s the wellbeing garden full of relaxing spaces and chilled-out walks to help you feel good in your soul.

Then there’s the café where you can enjoy a delicious bite to eat amongst the greenery. Not to mention the collection of flower-inspired artworks and books in the archives house near the herbarium. And if that’s not enough, there’s the rest of RHS Wisley to explore when you’re done!

It’s a fine day out with plenty to keep the whole family engaged. You could even make a trip to see the other RHS Gardens in Harrogate or Bridgwater too.

Have you been to any of the RHS Gardens or RHS Wisley’s Hilltop Garden in particular? What did you think?


All images credit Harrod Horticulture.

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