4 September 2011

Kew Gardens in late August

Going to Kew Gardens regularly gives me the chance to explore different parts of the gardens, the same parts in different seasons and also different ways of keeping a record of what I see and do.

My usual routine is: 1) check-in to Kew Gardens on FourSquare, 2) take about a hundred photos with my Canon Ixus 80IS, 3) put about forty of these on Facebook, 4) put about eight of these on Flickr, 5) add five to the Kew Gardens group there, 6) select my four to six for a blog post (like this one), 7) tweet that I've written a new blog post, and finally, 8) add a link to the blog post to the Kew Gardens page on facebook.

This time I did all that and also experimented with Instagram. This takes photos on your iPhone, applies a choice of filters to them and lets you post it quickly and easily to a range of sites including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. The two main differences from what I usually do are the choice of filters and the ability to post at the time rather than, which is often the case, a week or so later.

This visit, on the last weekend in August, started at Lion Gate, ending a run of visits that had started at the more popular Victoria Gate.

The first thing to greet you there is the Pagoda but, regrettably, that is closed so I carried on towards the little Japanese Garden with its small decorative plants and swirls of neatly raked grey gravel.

At the top of a short gentle ride sits a small squat building looking over it all and confirming the Oriental nature of the garden with its distinctive architecture.

The garden is tranquil and restful both through deliberate design and also the relative lack of visitors to this corner of Kew.

From there it is a short walk to the Redwood Grove and then on to then Waterlilly Pond.

The redwoods do what you expect redwoods to do, stand tall and silent. It's hard to gauge their height and their even greater potential when standing amongst them but one of the educational displays that Kew provides helps to put everything in context.

The Waterlilly Pond is just pretty. This is the ideal spot to linger for a few minutes of rest before heading further in to the garden.

The good people of Kew have thought about this and have provided plenty of benches for that purpose. There is also lots of vibrant planting around the pond in case you ever get tired of looking at just the pond itself.

I came across the Woodland Glade by accident (it's not on the iPhone app) and that added a little more interest to the walk around the compost heap towards the Xstrata Treetop Walkway.

This is an impressive and effective structure that I am now getting used to despite my (sensible) fear of heights and the obvious fact that the floor of the walkway is full of holes.
Luckily the design means the the holes point away from you as you take the prescribed route round clockwise but if you look behind you at any point then the holes reveal the ground far below and remind you why you are uncomfortable about being so far up.

The vertigo is worth it though as the walkway takes you up close to the trees and also offers unparalleled views across the garden. The Temperate House is clearly visible through the trees and looks large even from a reasonable distance.

Having seen it from above the next thing to do was to see it from inside.

The Temperate House is probably my favourite place in Kew Gardens.

It has that special combination of being a large decorative and unusual building stuffed full with large decorative and unusual plants, several of which threaten to bust through the flimsy roof.

A tight spiral staircase takes you up a level to a narrow walkway that circles the large central greenhouse (there are five green houses linked together). From here you can appreciate the size and variety of the plants and also the Victorian splendour of the roof.

To be honest, I prefer the roof more than the plants which is why it features more in the picture than they do.

Having traversed the length of the Temperate House I found myself closest to Victoria Gate so headed out that way.

That is a jolly route taking in the formal Cherry Walk and the Mediterranean Garden that mirrors the earlier Japanese Garden by having a slight slope and a building on the top.

Just before Victoria Gate the Times Eureka Chelsea Garden waits for you.

Having spent the morning amongst the trees at the southern end of the garden the colourful flowers here give a jolt that can only be relieved by walking and sitting among them for a while.

I still have no idea what the wooden construction is meant to be for but, as a piece of abstract design, it has grown on me and it looks at home here.

Another Sunday morning, another few hours in Kew and another set of pictures and words to remember them by.

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