26 May 2012

Four Kew gardens

Having dipped a quick toe in to Kew Gardens it was time to move on towards the Green to see a series of private gardens open as part of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS).

The four gardens all stretch from the Green to the river and that makes them all long and thin. Some are a little wider than others but that is a marginal difference and they are all much much longer than they are wide.

This means that there are lots of similarities between them, so much so that going through the pictures now I have no idea where each one is taken (I could use the GPS settings but that sounds like too much effort) but that does not really matter. I prefer to think of this is one large garden that just happens to have four owners.

Being long and thin means that each garden is divided in to several distinct areas with paths connecting them. Sometimes these paths are straight, sometimes winding, sometimes paved and sometimes grassy.

The sequence of the gardens within the garden is the same in each case.

Nearest the house the garden is most formal with a patio and pots then a lawn, after that come borders of flowers, then the larger bushes are tress take over before we get to the working part of the garden with its vegetables and compost heaps.

This variety is what makes these gardens interesting, rather than any one section of any one garden.

That said, there are plenty of places where you are forced to stop to appreciate the scene. Here it is the mix that I like with the small tree in a central bed where it is joined by some flowers, the narrow path that curves past it and the glimpse of the garden beyond.

Elsewhere we see a wide grassy path curving past wide borders before disappearing out of sight.

As with the other gardens, once you step away from the house you are so deeply immersed in trees and bushes that it is easy to forget that you are in a busy city.

The effect is reinforced by all the gardens adopting the same formula of having mature trees at the river end of their gardens.

The peace and tranquillity is almost amazing due to the absence of noise from cars and people and you are only reminded of the real world by the constant stream of jets heading for Heathrow. Boris Island is a bonkers idea but if it takes planes away from West London then I am all for it.

In all the gardens it was the less formal areas that I liked the most, which is why they feature so highly here, and there is something magnificent about the apparently chaotic planting in this border that produces an unusual combination of shapes and colours.

I'll end with a picture that (in my opinion) encapsulates what all for of the gardens are about.

The planting is mixed and interesting, the red brick wall is a boundary and a background, and a path leads you onwards.

The National Garden Scheme does an excellent job in encouraging garden owners to open up their gardens and in enabling us voyeurists to enjoy them.

Like most of the gardens that I have seen through NGS these four Kew gardens are not necessarily that grand or that special but they are different, and interesting, and that's why it is well worth spending an hour or so to explore them.

It's a pleasing bonus that these adventures also raise money for charity.

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