28 October 2012

Tropical Nursery Open Day at Kew Gardens

A week after my last visit to Kew Gardens I was back again. The attraction this time was the Tropical Nursery Open Day, a look behind the scenes for members only.

It was a miserable day, not that that mattered. This was the only day that the nursery was open so I had to go then, I have no issues with walking in the rain, a lot of Kew Gardens is under glass anyway and, selfishly, bad weather keeps other people away.

The Tropical Nursery is situated close to Brentford Gate which, annoyingly, is the one furthest from any bus stop. I chose to go in via Victoria Gate so that I could so as much of the walk within the gardens as possible.

The quickest route would have been around the Palm House but I was in no rush so I walked through it. A delight as always.



Walking on from there I took a direct a route as I could (though I may, conceivably, have got lost along the way) and that meant avoiding the tarmac paths. That was a bonus. Here the leaves revealed the way.

The Tropical Nursery is an industrial greenhouse with no concession to beauty, which helps to make it beautiful.

Each of the cells has a carefully controlled climate and that meant that we could not go in to most of them. But these are glasshouses so it is easy to see inside.

There were also a few of the staff there to explain some of the plants to us and displays of some of them in the corridors so that we could get up close to them.

I skipped quickly past most of the displays put on for us on the grounds that the plants can be seen elsewhere in Kew Gardens, what was unique about this visit was that it allowed us to see how Kew Gardens works.

I liked the functional things like the large collection of plant pots, the valves and meters that control the flow and heat of the water, and the whiteboards showing what each of the gardeners duties were.

The greenhouse that we were allowed in was arranged in a square with a square corridor within it. This meant that we always had cells of the greenhouse on both sides of us to look at.

The plants varied as much as they do in the public greenhouses though this is a nursery so there was nothing particularly large. These trees in the corridor got about as large as anything that we saw.

Among the plants on view were some taking their first faltering steps in water. They looked as cute there as they do when they grow up and are taken to the Waterlilly House to live.



Obviously there were cacti.

One of the cells was full of succulents, looking rather like something from a not-so-scary-these-days horror movie from the 50s.

There was also a collection of cacti for us to take a close look at. I like cacti and have a conservatory full of them (not actually my fault) so I did pause to look at these.

Star of the show was this one thanks to the white webbing that covers it and the ring or purple flowers that crown it.

This was just one greenhouse and we were not allowed in to most of it and yet it still took m something like 45 minutes to get around. And then I had the rest of the garden to look forward to.

Kew Gardens continues to please every time that I go, which is why I am a member and why I keep going.

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