20 June 2011

Kew Gardens in June

The ridiculously slow membership renewal process at Kew Gardens started in April but did not conclude until June, which meant that I was unable to visit the gardens in May.

So it was almost with a sense of desperation that I went back there in June.

The weather forecast was less than promising so I played safe, went in at Victoria Gate and headed for some of the greenhouses.

First up was the magnificent Palm House that stretches itself along the north-west side of oddly unnamed lake. The path around the lake takes you closer to the fountain and provides the best view of the Palm House.

Inside the Palm House is one of my very favourite places on the planet with its extravagantly large-leafed plants squeezed in to a simply magnificent structure.

For reasons that escape me, Kew thinks that this is not enough to delight everybody and have planted a few colourful monsters amongst the greenery. I suppose that they are trying to attract, or scare, children.

My favourite part of my favourite place is the high walk way in the central part of the greenhouse where you can get up close and personal with both the largest of the large leafs and the metal and glass that conspire to form the room.

The one-way system means that to see everything at this level you have to go around one and a half times but that is just a good excuse to spend even more time up there.

Leaving the Palm House at the east exit takes you straight to the Waterlily House.

This is much smaller and much simpler that its grand neighbour and so is easy to overlook, but that would be a mistake as the inside is sumptuous.

From there I went to the Princess of Wales Conservatory, a building I've not yet fallen in love with. It's wonderful when the orchids or butterflies are on show but the rest of the time I find it a little cold, stark and humourless.

It does not help that the structure is ugly as that tend to ruin any pictures in which it can be seen in the background.

That's why there are no photographs from it in this collection.

Passing south from the Princess of Wales Conservatory takes you through the Rock Garden to the south-east corner of the garden.

This is garden within a garden hidden by a high wall so you always enter it unsure of quite what to expect, especially as it is laid out with many rectangular beds with seemingly random planting.

Making a whole of the pieces is a long rose strewn pergola that run the length of the inner garden and also up to the main entrance in the middle.

Following the path under the pergola to the west takes you back towards Victoria Gate.

But before you get there you have to pass through the Woodland Garden with the Temple of Aeolus sitting on top of a short hill. Here the planting is wild, natural and beautiful causing you to pause and drink in the colours.

This was a relatively short walk confined to just one small corner of Kew Gardens but that was more than enough to fill a few hours with colours, shapes and smells all complimented by some good old fresh air and exercise.

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