Badgers love gooseberries

A while ago, Mirinda booked us in for a visit to RHS Wisley. It was to mark their big re-opening and was only for members and their guest. It was also restricted in numbers and at pre-booked times. She booked us in for 10am (opening time) and then we waited. For today.

The plan was to see how it went. How the whole thing was organised, if it was too irritating, if the fear outweighed the enjoyment. As it turned out, it was all pretty much normal.

Okay, the inside things were closed as was the kid’s playground, but everywhere else we were free to wander for as long as we wanted. There were vans selling drinks and carby foods, the toilets were open. It was great.

Even the statues which comprised an outdoor exhibition which had been due to open the Monday after lockdown started, had been extended to December so we could enjoy such wonderful pieces as these three little maids.

Little Girl, Little Girl II, Little Girl III by Lynn Chadwick (1987) (

While he had a very distinctive and enjoyable style, Mr Chadwick didn’t have much in the line of title. I’ve said many times in the past that I think naming an artwork something mundane is a cop out. Untitled 349 means nothing except for the lack of creativity in titling. I don’t understand why an artist (of any bent) can’t use the inspiration for the creation to give a title. Mind you, I’m not an artist so maybe I’m missing something. I guess I’ll never know.

As someone who appreciates art, I only find it annoying. To people who say they don’t understand art, it distances them from the work which isn’t helpful at all.

While not an inspiring title (I think Three Little Maids is much better) at least it’s better than Fish 6 by Martin Lorenz. This piece was a metal fish suspended over a pond. I saw the fish before I saw the label and my instant reaction was ‘Fish out of water’. Okay, it’s a pun but I maintain it makes the work more accessible. And humorous.

Fish 6 by Martin Lorenz (

That makes it sound like it was all about art. In a way, I suppose, it was. A combination of the art of garden arrangement, of nature entwining itself and the wonderful art of wandering around. We had it all.

Possibly my favourite thing of all was the Viewing Mount. This hill has been planted with 5,000 lavender and rosemary plants, making a wonderful vista for both eyes and nose. You wander around the winding path to the top where the big glasshouse stands at the bottom, your eye taken along two long plantings called the Glasshouse Borders.

From the Viewing Mount

Just behind the Viewing Mount is the Wisley collection of fruit trees and bushes. After the remarkable arches of apples and pears, long netted enclosures hold the RHS Plant Collections of currants, berries and, most impressive around 150 varieties of gooseberries.

The gooseberry enclosure is the most secure. It is not just surrounded by thick, black netting it also has a low electric fence around it. Mirinda was a bit mystified by the electric fence, thinking it was to keep small children off. Though, as I pointed out, the gooseberries were pretty much impossible to get to without the fence.

Mirinda stopped a handy gardener with a wheel barrow and asked her.

She told us it was because of the badgers. Apparently, badgers love gooseberries. The small electric fence is designed to keep them away. They also eat other berries but given the gooseberry collection is very important, the RHS staff want to protect them.

All I can say is that I don’t share taste buds with badgers.

All in all, it was a most pleasurable day out. We spent over two hours there, which is a long time for us. We took tea and a flask so could stop for a cup when we felt like it.

To top it all off, there were very few masks, no gloves and everyone seemed happy and healthy. It was almost as if the Plague World had simply vanished.

Old climbers around an old tree in a pretty little wilderness
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