I had to go in via Victoria Gate as that is the only one that is open early and from there I turned right with no real plan other than to see lots of things and to walk at a brisk pace to cover a decent distance.
I'll admit to one sad fact about me that drove some of this behaviour. I use the Swarm/FourSquare app on my photo to check in to places and this was my chance to become "mayor" of a few more places within Kew Gardens by checking-in there more that anyone else; I am currently mayor of several places including the Palm House and the Sackler Crossing. Other people play that game too and I lose some of my mayorships from time to time and that just makes me determined to revisit those places next time that I am in Kew. One of the reasons that I play the game is to give me some places to head for every time that I go to Kew - it is a way of making a plan for each visit.
As always I took quite a few photographs, 76 on this occasion which is fairly typical, and I had some difficulty in whittling it down to just ten to show the highlights. The obvious reason for this is there are lots of highlights in Kew Gardens and this morning I visited most of them.
The Princess of Wales Conservatory is probably the place that benefited the most from the early start as it is normally full of people and the layout means that they are always in the picture. Even today there was somebody, but only one. The splodge of blue on the left is another early visitor.
This corner of Kew Gardens, in the north-east corner, is always quiet, even on busy days, though that was no excuse for ignoring it when the whole gardens were quiet. I like the structures here and being on the edge of the gardens this a place to go to extend the walk.
The appearance of the gallery by the main gate on Kew Green (Elizabeth Gate) was helped considerably by the thick bed of tulips next to it. I love dark tulips and every time I see them I am reminded of the bag of bulbs that I bought in a flower market in Amsterdam that promised such things but only produced yellow flowers.
The Queen's Garden behind Kew Palace was looking especially lovely with more tulips, this time pink and white. The Palace hides this garden from the rest of Kew so it is another place that is usually quiet and quietness suits it.
I took this picture to show what most of Kew Gardens looked like that morning. It is sometimes easy to focus on the landmarks and forget the wide expanses like this that are the true heart of Kew.
I have seen the peacocks in Kew many times but they had never been this compliant before. Perhaps they were also appreciating the quiet morning.
It is the structure of the Japanese Landscape that makes it so pleasant and there is normally no colour there. The splotches of red transformed its appearance, if only for a few weeks.
I had to go on the Rhizotron and Treetop Walkway as I always to when in that quarter of Kew Gardens. The structure shakes a little as people tramp around it and so, while I know that the structure is completely safe, I am more comfortable when I am alone up there.
The vistas are another defining feature of Kew Gardens and this is the Syon Vista looking away from the Palm House and across the river to Syon House. On the right the roses are not yet ready for their turn to show off.
The Palm House looked as imperious as ever and the Parterre as lovely.
It was a great way to spend a Friday morning and comfortably justified the early start.