19 August 2012

A stroll in Kew Gardens (August 2012)

Kew Gardens offers many pleasures and the first decision on each visit is which ones to go for. This time I went in through the Lion Gate, not long after it opened for the day, and walked through the woods on the southern edge before hitting the Thames and turning east.

This is the quietest section of the garden being furthest from from the main gates (e.g. ones that you can park near) and not having any of the main physical attractions such as the greenhouses.

This is why I like it so much.

There are flowers as well as trees along the way and they appear in wild patches, not manicured like they are in the formal sections.

I am not completely fooled by this apparent randomness, everything in Kew is managed to some extent but it is nice to pretend that this is entirely natural.

Avoiding the main paths (I do not like the way that the grey tarmac both scars the greenery and attracts people) I headed vaguely towards the Palm House.

As always in these meanderings it is nice to have a destination in mind and nicer still to be deflected from it by distractions along the way. This time it was the call of the bamboo garden and Minka House. These are places that you only find by accident and are all the better for it.

The main attractions could not be avoided forever and nor did I want to. The helpful Kew Gardens iPhone app told me that the borders along the main path to the Orangery were worth seeing, so I did.

These borders are most welcome as this stretch is quite dull otherwise. It suits its main purpose of getting people from the main entrances to the main places but the path is wide and flat and, frankly, boring.

The kidney shaped borders are strewn along the side of the path and have been designed to please the pollinators. They certainly do this and they were buzzing with all sorts of insects.

The borders have also been designed to be attractive in a classic way with low plants at the front rising to tall grasses at the back. I do love grasses.

The most spectacular arrangement of flowers are in the Parterre in front of the Palm House. These are guarded by a row of heraldic creatures frozen in admiration of the colours and patterns.

Inside the Palm House, like its near twin the Temperate House, combines and contrasts the natural beauty of the tall leafy plants with the neat arrangement of white metal and glass.

It is a view that I never tire of and is why one of these two greenhouses features in almost every visit.

There is the The Princess of Wales Conservatory too but this lacks the grandeur and stature of its much older relatives.

Before leaving through the nearby Victoria Gate there was just time for a latte in the recently extended cafe.

I was in Kew Gardens for around two hours which is how long my visits tend to be. That is plenty enough time to explore large sections of the gardens and to take in one or two of the main attractions without being too long for tiredness and garden fatigue to take a grip. It also leaves much unexplored and that's a good excuse to go back again.

Kew Gardens is a delight that I like to consume in small measures and that makes it a fresh treat every time.

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