We can’t sit around here all day feeding robins

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IMG_0030 IMG_0018 IMG_0015 IMG_0007 IMG_0002 photo 3 IMG_9991 IMG_9987 IMG_9981David is home for a couple of weeks and the children are still at school (they break up tomorrow), so we took the opportunity today to do something they object to strongly – we visited a garden. We used to take them to visit gardens at every opportunity when they were little and had no say in the matter but these days they groan and roll their eyes and the older two flatly refuse to come. We can sometimes persuade the youngest but even she’s starting to turn. As a result we haven’t spent a day out at a garden for ages.

Wisley is a place we know very well. When we lived nearby, we’d go there for a weekend stroll and a mooch around the plant centre; it was a place we’d take visitors; I’d often meet up with friends and our babies/toddlers for the day; I worked as a volunteer in the Trials Department once a week for about three years. We both love the place and miss it, so we set off in the car this morning for a much-needed garden-fix and day of happy memories. I took loads of photos (under a flat sky and in dull light but they give you a taster) and we checked out all our favourite spots and the new planting schemes. One bed was being entirely dug over by about 10 gardeners, all plants carefully removed into crates and buckets – there’s a problem with bindweed in several of the borders apparently. One guy looked as though he was digging down to Australia, all in search of a pesky bit of root. Even in RHS gardens there are no short cuts.

We sat on a bench to eat our lunch and were entertained by a toddler chasing moorhens, another attempting to uproot a sapling and an extremely bold robin interested in our food. The time flew by. We could have spent at least another couple of hours wandering about and a fortune in the plant centre (we restrained ourselves to some seeds and bargain narcissi) but we had to tear ourselves away to beat the rush-hour traffic. The kids are all away on a school trip in May so we’ll be back again soon.

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35 thoughts on “We can’t sit around here all day feeding robins

  1. Sounds – and looks – like a lovely day out even if the skies were rather grey (when haven’t they been?). I’m very impressed you volunteered there for so long.
    I feel rather sad for gardening friends who say their partners/husbands wouldn’t countenance garden visiting with them. Andrew might not be the keenest, but at least he doesn’t refuse!

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    1. My volunteering was only 4 hours a week and ranged from taking photos of plants being trialled and updating records to printing out AGM certificates (and double-checking plant names!). It was interesting and nice to have that small involvement, and the people were lovely.

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  2. Oh what a gorgeous day in such a beautiful place. I need ten gardeners to come and dig the bindweed out of my allotment, but I fear it will be the usual botched job by me. It must be a very inspiring and relaxing place to visit. No-one here is a fan of garden visits except me, maybe I should try and sneak off on my own. CJ xx

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  3. I spy magnolia stellata? We went to Wisley on Saturday to look at Stipa Gigantea in the ground and it was so cold we had to retreat to the restaurant to warm up with a bowl of soup. There was a spring plant fair so I bought a few bulbs for the new border. I’ve been going to Wisley for ever and joined the RHS when my son was crawling. Glad you had a nice and different day out. If I’d been in your shoes I may have visited Sissinghurst instead. My husband quite enjoys visiting NGS gardens – as long as they are at least an acre in size and I don’t talk plants to the owners!

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    1. Yes, Magnolia stellata. The Stipa were looking ok, I thought, for this time of year. The trip was as much about revisiting a much-loved place as it was about visiting a garden. Sissinghurst is on our list for later in the year.

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  4. Gorgeous photos even with the flat light. Don’t worry your children will eventually become garden lovers. We have finally come full circle. Our middle son ,who loved gardens when small, hated in teenage and is now a garden creator in his new home. It’s a funny old life lol. Have a good Easter. B x

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  5. I think we were lucky that our two tolerated walks and gardens for quite a long time. Now they are grown we have all the time in the world to do solo visits and miss having them along to enjoy the old haunts. We’ve just done our first visit of the season to Sissinghurst. It was still very bare but we can see the bones of new work being planned and executed by Troy Scott Smith. Sissinghurst has bindweed too!

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  6. I’ve just bought a magnolia stellata and can’t wait for it to flower. Wisley is such a lovely place. We’ve given up taking our kids to houses and gardens too. In fact most of the time they refuse to go anywhere with us at all these days! Xx

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    1. It’s getting to that stage here too. Many people here don’t realise we have a 16-year-old as they’ve never met him! (We did move here when he was 12 and not very sociable even then.)

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  7. it sounds like a wonderful day out x my children will now only go somewhere if they think there’s a decent cafe, and they seem to think we can got there first and then leave………. going without them is a much better plan !

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  8. You have inspired me to find a way to have a day with Husband/ without children. Difficult, I find, without guilt.
    I wish we had more gardens like this to visit. Those crocuses…gorgeous.

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  9. What a lovely visit, especially for just the two of you to spend some time together. Your work at Wisley sounds very interesting, I have read some of the replies you left to comments and it sounds even more interesting! Glad you enjoyed it when you did it. xx

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  10. I had the mad idea that a season ticket to Hampton Court would be a Good Thing. I think it is unlikely now that either of my children will ever visit Hampton Court again for the rest of their lives. Parents can cause terrible damage to teenage minds, even when acting with the best of intentions.

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  11. LOVE these photographs, especially the second one. We did get to visit Wiseley when we were in the UK a few years ago and it is absolutely wonderful. Our kids have remained remarkably tolerant of our garden-visiting tendencies, although these days we have to be a little more restrained when in their company. When they were really small they were fine with visiting gardens, though what they really enjoyed was activities such as throwing handfuls of gravel into the pond.

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    1. My three used to enjoy being outdoors and picnics and things like that. I’ve warned them that we will be visiting gardens when we’re in the US and they’ll have to come along!

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  12. All the RHS gardens are wonderful to visit, we should have one a little closer when the new one opens. We have visited Wisley with our garden club the planting in the new greenhouse was very impressive. Your winter photos are very welcome.

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  13. My children were also dragged around gardens and garden centres when they were younger. There was a time when they wouldn’t come but now they are in their mid-20’s they can appreciate occasional visits! It must have been wonderful volunteering and helping out at Wisley. My brother and his family live close by and frequently visit it. Sarah x

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  14. Oh, how lovely! We went to Wisley in January last year and, between the icy temps and heaving cafe, were a little underwhelmed. I really want to return in the summer with a picnic. How nice that you and your husband could enjoy this day out in a place that’s so dear to you both. x

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  15. A good choice for a day out! I love Wisley and go if I can find the time – there’s always something to see, even in winter. I’ve been known to pop in for a plant and come out of the garden four hours later. Last time I went I noticed that molluscs had practically shredded the hostas so we all share the same gardeners’ woes!

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