24 May 2012

Oddities in Kew Gardens

I celebrated renewing my membership of Kew Gardens for another year by visiting some of the lesser known attractions.

To be honest, some of them are so little known that I had not come across them in my many previous visits.

I was alerted to their existence by Kew's excellent iPhone app which listed some of them in their list of things to see that day. So I did.

My destination was the north-east corner so I entered via Victoria Gate and headed around the pond and around the mound housing the Temple of Aeolus surrounded by a woodland garden.

From their the path leads on to the Rose Pergola that I have walked through many times.

What I had not done before was walk to the north end of the pergola because I thought that it came to a dead-end at a working section of the garden.

I was wrong.

Yes, this is a working area but the path continues and takes you to a small greenhouse with a collection of even smaller bonsai trees.

Most of them are maples and are around thirty years old. No explanation is given for this though the obvious answer is that this was somebody's hobby once and Kew has been diligent, and helpful, in keeping them alive.

Emerging from the working quarter I arrived by the sunken Aquatic Garden.

This garden is functional rather than decorative and has lots of lilies, reeds and other water plants arranged in small groups and neatly labelled.

Most of these plants are attractive so the garden is decorative by accident if not by design.

With the grasses low at the this time of the year the view extends a long way until finally halted by a line of trees.

Moving west and a little north leads to the Secluded Garden that is so secluded that I had not found it before.

It is stretching the point a little to call this a garden as it is more a collection of plantings and objects that are united by their geography rather than a common theme.

One of these objects is a little pond with steps leading down from it and thick vegetation all around it.

There is also another small greenhouse here. It is struggling to find a purpose and seems content to be home to a few unrelated plants that appreciate the extra warmth.

The centre-piece of the Secluded Garden is a circular grove with seats around the edge looking towards a wonderful stone sculpture in the centre.


This looks as though it is meant to have water running over it but there was none on the day that I went. I hope that the sudden onslaught of Summer that we have had since then has caused the taps to be switched on.

From there it is but a small step to the Orangery where coffee and cake was waiting for me.

The lawns outside of the Orangery now pay homage to the impeding Olympics with the intersecting circles drawn with flowers.

Thoughtfully a few gaps have been left in the rings to allow people to walk among them, which lots of small children were doing so it took me quite a while before I could safely take a picture without any of them in it.

Coffee and cake consumed, it was time to head for home via the main gate on to Kew Green.

And this produced the last surprise of the day.

There is an exhibition of sculptures by David Nash on at Kew starting on 9 June and some of them are in position already.

This likeable collection of rocks is installed by the (nameless) gallery on the main route in to the gardens.

The other sculptures that I saw were made from wood and were, to my taste, much less likeable. One looked like nothing more than a burnt tree.

I am open-minded though and will give the exhibition a fair chance when it opens.

And that will give me an excuse to go back to Kew in June, not that I really need one any more.

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