The names Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy aren’t yet familiar to my daughter but, like the Famous Five, she has a nose for adventure and a love of solving puzzles. Armed with a map, camera and tick list, we set off on a Famous Five garden adventure at Wisley Gardens in Surrey.
The themed event is to celebrate 75 years since Enid Blyton’s first Famous Five book was published (Five on a Treasure Island). At each of the four Royal Horticultural Society gardens are self-guided adventure trails, crafts and various Famous Five related activities. As a fan of the books, I jumped at the chance to introduce my daughter to the child sleuths as well as visit the beautiful Wisley Gardens in Surrey.
We decided to focus on the ‘picnic basket trail’, designed for younger children, and dipped in and out of the other trail aimed at children over 5. The latter leads you to various clues where you have to solve the mystery of the missing Uncle Quentin who has disappeared from Wisley Gardens. The storyline and clues are based around nature and the environment (as you’d expect from the surroundings) so a good bit of education going on too.
The picnic trail proved to be a very fun way to explore Wisley Gardens and engaged Mrs T (aged 4) far more than I’d expected. We were tasked with finding different signs showing items such ginger beer, sandwiches, a boat and compass, which were scattered around the grounds.
Mrs T loved going on an ‘adventure’ and looking for the various objects, getting very excited when they were located. I must say, she was very good at finding them!
The trail took us through various parts of the gardens from the viewing mount to the outdoor play area where we lingered a while. It gave my youngest, Cheeky, the chance to practise her standing skills and model her new LittleLite Gruffalo day pack.
Then it was through the glass house to find more clues as well as stare at its tumbling waterfall and onto the Clare Learning Centre. Inside, we found the treasure chest sign and Mrs T made her own as part of the special Famous Five craft activity which varies daily.
Following the simple origami instructions (with a little help from me), she made and decorated her treasure chest before filling it with ‘bracelets’ and ‘coins’ from the materials provided. She was delighted with the end result.
A quick stop for lunch and we were soon on the last part of the trail where the adventure hat was located.
There was time for a short browse around the extensive gift shop (and some purchases) before heading home. It stocks the new editions of the Famous Five books with their new covers to mark the 75th anniversary.
Afterwards Mrs T proclaimed she’d had a “really fun day”. I did too! My mission to introduce her to the books was a success. Although still too young to read them herself, she’s now taking an interest in the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy. On this occasion, she assigned herself as Anne, I was George and her younger sister was Timmy the dog! Perhaps she’ll get to be another character next time as its well worth another trip.
The Famous Five trail and events are on throughout the summer holidays until September 3 at the four RHS Gardens: Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall, Rosemoor and Wisley Gardens.
On August 11th, Enid Blyton’s 120th birthday, a special picnic with face painting and music will be taking place. No need to book. Just bring a picnic and join in the fun!
Admission: Free to RHS members. Non-members Adults: £15.40, Children 5-16 years old: £7.70. The self-guided trails and activities are no extra cost.
Baby-change facilities and soft play on site as well as cafes and restaurants.
Wisley Gardens is located in Wisely Lane, Surrey, GU23 6QB. Visit the website for more information.