25 October 2015

Kew Gardens (25 October 15)

Regular visits to Kew Gardens on Sunday mornings are a nice ritual to have created. The frequency of the visits varies with the weather as much as anything but I like to get there around once a month.

Sometimes these are slow leisurely visits to bask in the natural beauty and sometimes I go more for the exercise of the walk. This was one of the walking visits.

I usually enter via Lion Gate, the one nearest to Richmond, when looking to get some serious walking done as this means the longest possible walk to the Orangery which is always a near-certain destination.

Not far inside the Lion Gate is the Japanese Landscape with its sharply designed and heavily manicured features. Its architecture means that it is not dependent on seasonal colours to impress and so is delightful throughout the year.

Another deservedly popular spot is the Waterlily Pond, which sits on Cedar Vista as it heads in a dead straight line from the Pagoda, past the top of the lake and to the river. It is a small pond that is almost smothered by the vegetation that surrounds it. The view is both busy and tranquil at the same time. That is why there are lots of benches there.

A long walk from there, via the Orangery for the mandatory coffee and cake, took me to the Princess of Wales Conservatory. The roof line of the glasshouse draws your attention to the building itself and it is easy to overlook its setting and to miss pretty things like this little water feature that runs towards the east entrance.

Inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory the succulents area (at the west end) had been trimmed and tidied forcing me to pay more attention to it than I usually do.

This glasshouse, more than the others, is zoned into distinct areas with their own climates and planting to match. That means that either each room must be studied slowly in detail or some are skipped and are treated as paths more than gardens. This time I skipped through the main area and went slowly through the succulents, the opposite of my usual behaviour.

I go to the Waterlily House whenever I can, and given that it is close to Victoria Gate (the main gate), that is most times that I go to Kew Gardens. This time was no exception. I find the combination of water, planting and architecture compelling.

The Palm House, next door, covers some of those bases well with bigger planting and bolder architecture. I always spend most of my time looking up to see how the natural green architecture of the plants collides with the man-made white architecture of the glasshouse.

This was a fairly typical visit to Kew Gardens and was typically exhilarating and thrilling.

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