30 September 2012

A quick stroll in Kew Gardens

Sunday morning is my favourite time to go to Kew Gardens.

I can get there around opening time (9:30am) and for a while the gardens are all but empty, especially at the southern end away from the main gates.

I had no great plan in mind, as is usual. With Autumn getting a grip on the trees it seemed a good idea to go to the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway to see the browning leaves close-up.

Getting there early meant not having to share the wobbly walkway with boisterous children intent on running past you too close to be safe and forcing you to fall over the edge. I still get very nervous every time that I do up there but it is more bearable when it is quiet and the views are always worth it.

Back on the safety of the ground I headed north a little way to the lake and the Sackler Crossing that curves across it.

From the middle of the crossing you get views like this one. In this case I am looking east towards the main road, not that there is any visual clue that you are anywhere near, let alone in, a city. There is an strong audible clue from the many airplanes descending on Heathrow and I live in hope of more quite days like the ones we had during the Icelandic ash cloud incident.

I only had time for a short walk this day so once across the lake I turned right back towards the main entrance.

It is not a direct route as there are some serious attractions along the way that diverted and delayed me.

The first of these was the small but magnificent Waterlily House.

There is something very special about the building and the quiet round pond within it that sucks me in every time that I walk close by. And I am glad that it does.

There is something rather wonderful about large round leaves sitting gently on the surface of the pond and with just a few bright flowers fighting for attention.

The Waterlily House can be easily overlooked because it is next to one of the gardens' two great glasshouses, the Palm House. And that is where I went next.

Inside the Palm House is thick with exotic trees whose extravagant large leaves push against the glass. Outside eyes are turned down to soak in the colour and decoration of the Parterre. The contrast is vast and appropriate.

And that was it. In little over an hour I had soared among trees, walked over water, trampled through grass and shared confined spaces with strange plants. I have been to Kew Gardens many times and tasted all of these attractions before yet they still excite me with ease as I am sure they will next time that I go.

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