1911 – RHS Garden Wisley, near Woking, Surrey

People and Places Discussed and Pictured in Chapter 35 of:

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George Ferguson Wilson established ‘The Oakwood Experimental Garden’ at Wisley in 1878, and it soon became renowned for its collection of lilies, gentians, Japanese irises, primulas and water plants.   He died in 1903, and Sir Thomas Hanbury bought the estate, and presented it in trust to the Royal Horticultural Society.   Under their stewardship, the range of gardens was enlarged to incorporate a canal; a rock garden; summer garden; winter garden; a fruit field, glasshouses and an arboretum; alpine gardens, and model vegetable gardens.

1-5-35-1 - Wisley Cascade Brochure c1920a

The Lower Fall at Wisley c1920   (Reproduced from the Pulham ‘Garden Catalogue’ c1920)

James Pualham and Son was invited to create the rock garden in 1911, and, on 13th August 1912, James 4 read a paper on the Wisley rock and water garden to a meeting of the Society. It included the following comment:

‘In preparing their scheme, they . . . (i.e., James Pulham and Son, the contractors) . . . fortunately succeeded in obtaining the professional advice and assistance of Mr Edward White, under whom they have constructed many rock and water gardens in the past.   Mr White collaborated with them throughout, and advised as to the landscape portion of the scheme . . .’

The Pulhams collaborated with Edward White – son-in-law of H E Milner – on a number of projects around this time, including Gatton Park – only about 18 miles from Wisley – and Ardross Castle, in Scotland.   James Pulham and Son were awarded a Silver Cup for their construction of these gardens.

The rock garden at Wisley is constructed from natural stone, rather than Pulhamite.   This has made it possible to move them around on a number of occasions since they were first laid, but they still retain the same basic character today.


An additional ‘Chapter’ was published each month over a period of five years on this website under the tag of ‘Where? / Site of the Month’, and these can now be accessed alphabetically under the comprehensive ‘Where? / Gazetteer’ tag, so don’t miss those.   Click on the link to see the complete list of Pulham sites described and illustrated by Claude Hitching.

Another link that you might like to refer to takes you to the ‘Press and Media / Book Reviews’ tag, where you can read all the reviews of ‘Rock Landscapes‘ written by professional critics in the National and Garden Press.

To check out the names of the People and Places featured and illustrated in any of the other Chapters, click the CONTENTS link to return to the main CONTENTS Page.   Click here to go direct to the ‘Book Shop’.   Happy Reading to all our followers


A full description of the work done by James Pulham and Son at RHS Garden Wisley – together with a number of pictures – can be found in Chapter 35 of Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy the critically-acclaimed and lavishly illustrated definitive story of the lives and work of James Pulham and Son.   Written by Claude Hitching, with featured photography by Jenny Lilly.   Published by Garden Art Press.

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