24 December 2010

Kew Gardens in December

A free Sunday morning meant the opportunity to brave the harsh frost and head back to Kew Gardens for a brisk stroll, some to delve in to unvisited corners and linger in the familiar warmth of one of the green houses.

The Temperate House is easily my favourite of the three large green houses so I went in at Lion Gate and headed straight there delighting along the way in disturbing the many squirrels who clearly were not expecting somebody that early on such a cold day.

There is lots to like about the Temperate House and the decorative architecture pulls you towards it from a distance. Each step closer reveals more of the beauty.

The architecture is just as good inside as out and here the straight white lines of the window panes play against the natural curves and greens of the plants. But this is not a battle of styles, it's a harmonic duet.

A redundant mechanism for opening windows is being claimed by the greenery and it takes a while to realise that it is not natural but the Victorian elegance still manages to shine through.

Elsewhere the confusion of supporting structures and tropical leaves collide wildly and joyously. This is why I never tire of going there and why I always take the steps up to the upper walkway.

The Temperate House is a magnificent achievement but there is lots more to Kew Gardens than that and the leisurely walk towards Victoria Gate for the necessary coffee leads you to the formal lake.

Here some Autumnal colours linger in the sun encouraged by the marginal warmth of the water.

The walk around the lake is surprisingly varied. Most people choose to go around the west side, past the Palm House and the formal flower gardens, which makes the east side unexpectedly quiet.

This is also where you'll find the classic fountain nicely placed off-centre in the lake.

A couple of hours or so and all I did was barely scratch the south-east corner of the gardens. Do the sums, you can spend a lot of time here and/or visit it many times. I plan to carry on doing quite a bit of both.

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