Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Kew Gardens - London's Royal Botanical Garden

Last week while staying at Janie’s we decided to take a trip to Kew Gardens. We live in North East London and Kew is in South West London so going from Janie’s is a shorter journey.

It was the 1st July and the temperature hit the mid-eighties (for one day only as it happens). We have had rain, rain and more rain ever since and there is talk of a European Monsoon season! Wet weather set to last at least until the end of July so I do hope we get some breaks in that. All the gardening I planned to do this week has not been touched.

Back to Kew. Our last visit was 45 years ago, yes, even I found that hard to believe. It was worth it in the end, but early in the day I was beginning to wonder as getting there became somewhat of a hassle. It is hoped that people will take public transport when visiting Kew as they do not have a car park (It is in a busy area of London) but the website said that one can park on the road outside. The road outside is very long as Kew itself is very large.

Our journey began on the M25 London orbital and almost immediately we were in heavy congestion exacerbated by an accident. Having been held up, when we reached the M4 we decided to stop at the service station for Loos and coffee only to find the loos out of action, yes all of them, male and female, unheard of in all our years of travelling. Just one mother and baby room and a disabled loo left functioning so not difficult to guess what the queues were like. We were at least grateful that we arrived 30 minutes after 3 coaches.

Eventually we were on our way again and arrived at Kew only to find we needed to drive for nearly 2 miles before we found a parking space. Added to that parking tickets could only be purchased at the local shops that were even further along and the longest parking time was a mere 4 hours. We were fortunate to catch a bus back to the entrance, not something we would normally do but time was limited and it was very hot.

On arrival at the kiosk when trying to pay by credit card we were told there would be a wait as the card machine was down. Were we really meant to come out today? Fortunately I was carrying cash.

The attraction that made it all worth while was the new tree-top walk. I have a problem with heights but was determined not to miss it. I passed others on the way up that were stuck half way up the steps afraid to go further. So with legs like jelly and a raised heart beat I got to walk amongst the tree canopy. The walk is made up of open mesh so that nothing is missed so it was a challenge. I do know that faith and courage is not the absence of fear but going ahead in spite of one’s reactions.

Kew is vast and one needs more than 4 hours there (2 days probably) so I can only give you a slight glimpse of the place. Added to what I am showing you there is the Bamboo garden, Azalea garden, rock garden, bog garden, ice house, winter garden, Duke’s garden, aquatic garden, rose garden, Queen Charlotte’s cottage and more.

Two things I learned that I did not know (obviously there is much, much more but this is what I noticed). A banana tree is a herb and The difference between a forest and a woodland is: A woodland has an open canopy allowing plants to grow on the ground, a forest has a dense canopy and little will grow at ground level.

The Palm House

The Temperate House

The princess of Wales Conservatory

The Lily Pad House

The Japanese Garden

The Palace

This palace was designed by the future King George III

and he moved his family there in 1772

The previous dwelling was to the front of this

We did not go in as we did not have enough time

Lavender Walk

This building can be hired for weddings and events

We are now going to take a walk in the tree tops here

Looking across from one side of the tree top walk

The arch in the centre of the picture is the Wembley Arena in the distance

Proof that I did it even if the worse for wear

His Lordship enjoys heights

An underground tunnel which depicted what happens with various tree roots and the various insects involved in helping keep the tree alive

We ended our visit at one of the tearooms and being so hot we sat outside
Being so close to Heathrow we got to see which planes were landing
every 60 seconds
so close we could read the logos


Willow said...

So very interesting Barbara. Kew Gardens has changed in the past four years since we visited. The Princess of Wales Conservatory was the new thing then. Isn't the lily pad house amazing? I loved those huge pads that look big enough to be dining tables.

The Lavender Walk must have smelled heavenly. Did you go through the Rose Garden?

Congratulations on making it along the tree top walk. Yes, courage is what you have when you keep going even if you don't like heights.

Britt-Arnhild said...

I have a dream to come to Kew Garden some day.

Teresa said...

I never knew the difference between a woodland and forest, or that a banana tree to be an herb. Interesting, thank you. Lavender has such a relaxing affect. With the day being in the 80’s I imagine that walk was almost intoxicating. I’d love to see all of Kew, especially Queen Charlotte’s cottage. I hope you are able to get back there and see those things you did not have time for. The tree~top walk looks a little much for me as I am with you on the heights thing. But, I’d like to think I would do it just the same. That must have been beautiful to see and encouraging to conquer.

Adrienne said...

Hi Barbara -
Thank you for taking us along. What a beautiful place to spend time. I would love to visit there. I like the walk through the tree tops. And the yellow blooms on the Trumpet Vine.

Ex-Shammickite said...

I've never been to Kew Gardens, and I've always wanted to. Oh well, maybe on my next trip to UK.
That treetop walk looks wonderful. Very exciting to be up in the canopy looking down.
I love to visit beautiful gardens, but it has the effect of making me really dissatisfied with my garden at home!
When I was in England in June I visited the rose garden at Mottisfont Abbey.... I put some pictures on my blog... what a wonderful place!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

The closest I've gotten to Kew Gardens is the Virginia Woolf book! Thanks for all the photos, I now have a better idea of the place. And the tree top walk looks wonderful!

Sara said...

That was a fascinating tour...thank you for putting up with broken loos and long queues and hot weather and all the rest!

I heard once somewhere that bananas were like a gigantic sort of grass...that's quite an herb! And I did not know about that difference between a forest and a woodland...

King George's house is so brightly colored...and what massive chimneys. I love all those windows.

The tree top walk intrigues me...I'd love that (I like heights), and those trees are so very tall. You captured the size of them so well in that one photo just before the walk.

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Barbara this is remarkable...I suppose alot changed in 45 years, didn't it?

I find your story of actually getting to the gardens astonishing...all the loos out of service, the miles-long hike back from the parking spot....the broken credit card about a comedy of errors.

Congrats on your bravery to go up that tree. I know I could not have done it with my fear of heights, so I applaud you for overcoming your fear of heights.

These images are so delightful....I am amazed at that lavender walk.... and the lush tropical foliage....

p.s. I always thought woodland and forest meant the same thing....but now I know better....blogging is so educational..

Jeanne said...

I love all that you share.
I love Angels Trumpets and lavender
Love you

Merisi said...

So many hassles to finally get back to Kew Gardens, after all those years! I love the idea of a sky walk (I remember being able to walk among the tree tops at the palm house in Washington DC, albeit a much shorter walk, it was lovely). Lavender alley looks gorgeous. I imagine all that fragrance in the air!

There's a very large palm house in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. A friend remarked that it reminds him of Kew Garden's glass house.

Elizabethd said...

The lavender walk looks wonderful, I could almost smell the perfume.

Mmm said...

I loved going to Kew Gardens. We would take a ferry up the Thames. I loved the Japanese style towered pagoda. Lovely. That tearoom would be so nice too! I miss tearooms perhaps the most of everything UK has to offer! But I can vicariously enjoy it form here with your blog!

Paula said...

Just amazing. I LOVE that lavender walk. Wow, it just takes your breath away.

Reflection Through The Seasons said...

Well done Barbara! Firstly for coping with the challenging journey to Kew and secondly for doing the tree top walk. So pleased you endured all of this for us now to enjoy your pictures. They are terrific! You may have been a little exhausted, but you certainly look well equipped and suitably dressed for such a trek.

What a stunning brugmansia plant with all its yellow trumpets. Marion

Linda said...

I think I went there over 30 years ago. Lovely place.


WOW!!!that was wonderful. I am glad you did not let fear stop you. I know that it would have me. I hate heights. But I so enjoyed the tour. Thanks for making it. connie from texas

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Sounds like a hot day with plenty of life's little unpleasant surprises, but you persevered and look what you gained. Good analogy, Barbara! I didn't know all those things that you shared either...banana trees are an herb? Hmmm...

A Woman Who is: said...

Oh Barbara what a wonderful post. I have always dreamed of going to these gardens. I am glad now that I didn't try to squeeze this one in on my only trip to your country. This place is massive. I so enjoyed your tour. I love the fact that you made that climb. I have never seen anything like it. You are so hysterical with the plane descriptions and the picture of his Lordship. LOL

Those lily pads...amazing!

I hope we get to see more? You did mention rose very favorite.

I would say it was well worth all you had to endure...well maybe not the M25...I know I told you, I had my first and only real panic attack on that freeway...ugh!

Cousin Pam said...

How wonderful! Like you I haven't been to Kew for many years - nearly 40 - but keep saying I'd like to visit again, especially now that they have the tree-top walk. Think I may need a plan to get there though from what you say!

Mobunny said...

I would like to see the Lily Pad place. What fun that must have been to go there!

Barbara said...

I love Kew Gardens - which up to now I only saw in winter and Spring. Whenever I'll be in London during summer I'd like to see also the roses blooming!