13 July 2009

Kew Gardens in Summer (2009)

Kew Gardens is only half an hour away yet I do not manage to get there anything like as often as I should. If this blog is to be believed then I last went there in October, around nine months ago.

A good friend is a life member of Kew (yes, it did cost him a small fortune) and I took advantage of one of his free tickets to spend a few hours there recently.

Kew Gardens is vast so any casual explore on foot will discover something new, particularly if your visits are as irregular as mine! This time I found myself in the Duke's Garden on the North edge of the garden where, almost hidden next to the Kew Gardens Gallery, is this wonderful border of colourful flowers and interesting shapes.

Almost in the middle of Kew Gardens, but still somehow rather off the beaten track, is a large lake. This is an excellent place to enjoy the magic of the plants that thrive in or near water. And here too, there are lots of water birds busy looking after their new additions; so much so that it feels a little odd not having a young offspring of my own in tow.

The lake is best explored at close hand from the newish crossing (Sackler Crossing) which curls its way lazily over the lake.

Kew Gardens is proud to remind you of its serious work and heritage, it is not just a pretty garden. There is an exhibition on at the moment on seed banks. This explains why they are needed, what and where they are, and how they work. Several large constructs help explain the complex and varied world of seeds and also have their own artistic merit.

Back in the Duke's Garden there is flower bed that seems determined to be the most colourful in the whole garden, and it just might be so. Hiding in the background is the Gallery adding a touch of structure and formality to the joyous expanse of nature before it.

The greenhouses are the most memorable features of Kew Gardens and there are several of them of assorted shapes and sizes scattered along the East edge that follows the Richmond/Kew road. The cutest one is the original Palm House. The lake with fountain in front of it denies the natural splendour of the rest of the garden and tries to demonstrate why being a pleasure garden can be a good thing too.

In the four hours I was there (that included a leisurely lunch) I managed to take almost a hundred photos while only scratching the surface of what Kew Gardens has to offer. Hopefully I will get my act together soon and visiting there will become more of a habit and less of a special occasion.

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