20 January 2013

Kew Gardens in the snow

I do not normally go to Kew Gardens two weeks in a row but then they do not normally lay on snow the week after I have been.

And snow changes everything.

I was more organised this time (that's not that hard) and arranged a walk with friends that took us though Kew Gardens and then on to a lunch at one of the riverside pubs at Strand-on-the-Green.

We all met at Lion Gate at 11am and it was like walking in to Narnia. The familiar path looked anything but familiar, despite the presence of the Pagoda.

We tramped towards the Japanese Garden where the careful geometry of the stones was obliterated by the inconsiderate snow.

Descending from the hillock we entered one of the long straight paths the dissect Kew. The main routes have names, like Cedar Vista and Cherry Walk, but this is just a grassy gap between two straight lines of trees and hoes unnamed. The tarmacked Holly Walk parallels it off to the left but this is a far more attractive route.

We passed the Temperate House and arrived at the little garden below King William’s Temple on the North side.

There we were greeted by several snowmen, a snowcat and this delightful Robin. His red breast looking even more colourful than usual against the white on the snow and the dullness of the day.

He looks quite content in weather that forced the rest of us to dig-out our ski gear.

The path from there curves gently to pass behind the Palm House which still managed to look magnificent despite the snow-laden air sucking all the colour out of the picture. The roses in the foreground had lost everything except their spindly branches that twisted confusingly.

Syon Vista runs from the Palm House all the way to the river. Even in bright sunshine that looks a long way and in the snow the distance was hidden completely giving you no idea of where the path leads and giving you all the more reason to try it.

One of the biggest pluses of the snow was the impact on the semi-circular path that runs behind the Palm House to form the border of the Rose Garden. This path is lined with tall neatly trimmed bushes and I had been trying to take a reasonable picture of them for years but had always been thwarted by the thick band of grey tarmac running between them. The path is ugly and is so wide that it dominates any picture that tries to show how the bushes are arranged.

The snow neatly solved that problem.

By then the walk was almost over. There was just time for a coffee in the White Peaks Cafe (the Orangery was closed) before leaving the gardens at Elizabeth Gate and heading over Kew Bridge to Strand-on-the-Green.

This was one of the best walks in Kew Gardens that I have ever had, it ranks alongside the plane-free day, and I would love to do it again. More snow please.

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