I do not need much of an excuse to go to Kew Gardens but if one were needed then the annual orchids display is as good as they come so I made sure that one of my regular Sunday morning visits happened while it was on.
Previous experience of the orchids had told me that it would be very busy and that it would be hard to take distance shots without hordes of loudly dressed people in them, which meant that I made a special effort to get there for 9:30am when the gardens opened.
And the plan worked!
The 65 bus arrived at Victoria Gate on the stroke of 9:30am and I was one of the first to get in. That allowed me to take this picture of the Palm House as I walked past. It looked even better than usual because it had nobody in front of it.
The Palm House was quickly forgotten as I headed to Princess of Wales Conservatory and the orchids. One or two people had beaten me there but, apart from them, the place was empty but not quiet. The absence of chatter allowed the noise of the water to take its rightful place in the tropical environment.
I immediately set about my task of taking close-up photos of the more attractive orchids, which was almost all of them.
The layout of the Princess of Wales Conservatory was still a mystery to me despite my many previous visits. It was a confusion of rooms, steps, doors and paths. If there is a simple way to go through it seeing everything only once then I have yet to find it.
The upside of that is that I got to see some of the displays more than once and from different angles. This is where the varying heights are useful as each step climbed offers a new perspective.
The orchids display was complimented by some colourful animals made from flowers and trees. There were bees flying over the pond, a beetle crawling along a branch, some butterflies and two very colourful humming birds.
There were a few formal arrangements of orchids too. The floral archways on the path above the pond were there again but the display that impressed me the most was hanging above one of the paths.
The orchids made rather a point of showing off by thrusting their flowers well forward from the foliage so that only they would be in focus. A clever trick and it worked. Normally in Kew Gardens I make a point of taking pictures of the gardens rather than the plants in them but here I had no choice other than to take lots of close-ups.
I have left the main display until last. This is the large pond in the middle of the main section of the conservatory. This is where most people congregated, especially the children eager to spot the fish, and where most photos were taken. This year there were also easels and paper for those who preferred to take their pictures the old-fashioned way.
The Princess of Wales Conservatory is not that large but it still managed to trap me for over an hour before the call of coffee and cake was finally heard over the siren song of the orchids.
That then was enough of Kew Gardens for me on that visit and I headed out of the main gate on to Kew Green but not before I had a good look at the International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition in the Nash Conservatory by the main gate. I liked some of the photos, thought others were dull or pretentious and was surprised that none of them was taken at a jaunty angle.
The orchids exhibition was a great success, as always. I have been every year for the last few years and I hope to carry on doing so.