On a visit to see our son in
London, the wife and I thought we might catch up on a bit of sight seeing,
and as Oxford Street and Knightsbridge (Harrods) is not my idea of sightseeing
we opted for Kew Gardens. [ A map of the site can be seen here ]
We both agreed that perhaps October was
not the best time of the year
to visit the gardens.
Our thoughts were, that as the UK was
in that transition period of summer nearly over,
autumn not quite with us, and winter
fast approaching, the quality of plant
life might not be quite up to standard.
But Kew proved us wrong, this is certainly
a garden for all seasons.
If the weather is inclement, there are
the ‘heated’ buildings such as the
Princess of Wales Conservatory, The Palm
house, The Temperate house, and the museum,
each with its own brand of interest.
Outside there is a fair mix of evergreen
& deciduous trees/shrubs and wildlife,
making the woodland a place of interest
all the year round.
Back to our visit, true, the summer bedding
was virtually over,
the trees had not quite reached their
true autumnal colour,
but there were still lots to see.
Along one side of the footpath from Victoria
gate to Lion gate the Camellias
were heavily budded.
In a few of months this will be a fantastic
sight when they come into bloom.
On the other side there was woodland.
At the end of this footpath we caught
a glimpse of the ‘Pagoda’ through the trees.
At this point the path changed direction,
and with it, a change of landscape.
'The Chinese garden'
complete with traditional gate.
From here we continued through the woodland
to the Temperate & Evolution houses.
On entering the Evolution house we were
greeted by the site of an active volcano
complete with smoke and sulphurous smell.
The footpath was lined off in periods
of a few million years with placards indicating the origin of life from
‘single cell’ microbes to the formation of ‘plant life’.
To give added atmosphere to the various
periods of ‘evolution’ there were sounds of prehistoric monsters and imprints
of their feet in the concrete footpath.
The next stop was the ‘Temperate house’
complete with its full sized trees, which could be viewed from a high level
gallery or from ground level, all in all a very impressive place,
it certainly put my little 10 x 8 greenhouse
in its place.
We left the Temperate house and continued
our walk along ‘Limes Walk’
Under one of the Limes there was an infestation
of fungi, proving that
the Kew gardeners have their problems
At the end of Lime walk out side ‘King
William’s temple’ there was this
fantastic plant named 'Ephedra'
[ I have just the spot at home for
such a plant, but I resisted taking a cutting.]
From there we proceeded towards the Rose
garden & Palm house passing
the end of ‘Syon Vista’
Because of time limitations, we chose
not to walk down it,
thought would leave that for another
We proceeded next to the ‘Palm house’.
Once again the sheer scale of things inside
were impressive a veritable ‘Rain forest’
with its Coconut palms grown from what
is reputed to be the largest plant seed of all,
its banana trees and exotic plants such
as Frangipani plumeria rubra
the ‘lobster claw’ plant.
All the time we were in the park we took
the plant life a bit for granted
i.e. plants were planted where you would
expect to see them,never thinking
of that other source of plant life!
Under the sea ’
This Marine display situated in the Palm
house cellar was a very effective, even down to the temperature change,
from hot rainforest, down to the cold sea.
We left the Palm house and headed towards
the ‘Water lily’ house, passing the ‘island beds’ that were already planted
out with Primula & Polyanthus.
On entering the ‘Water lily house’ we
found that we were out of season for water lilies
but the staff had put on a display of
Pumpkins & squashes for us to look at.
From the Palm house we walked up the ‘Broad
Walk’ with its many huge planters to the
‘Orangery’ & ‘Fern house’
which were both closed for refurbishment,
so we proceeded to Kew Palace and its
We then headed East, passing through the
secluded garden with its original water feature, which I photographed,
but due to poor light levels it didn’t
come out as well as I would have liked.
The next port of call was the ‘Duke’s
garden’ with its herbaceous borders and
From there we skirted the ‘Grass garden’
with its pampas grasses and headed towards
the ‘Aquatic garden’, which was passed
its best but I did notice
a nice variety of pond weed in flower.
Then it was on to the ‘Alpine house’,
this is something I did like,
it was colourful yet so simple with its
raised gravel beds.
We left the Alpine house and entered the
‘Order beds’ with its Rose bedecked pergolas.
Alas, the colour was all but gone, a
few roses here and there, but it must have been a lovely sight a couple
of months ago.
So we carried on into the ‘Rock garden’
with its water cascade.
This was certainly nothing like my Rock
garden, the rock outcrops were veritable cliffs.
Then to one of the latest additions to the
park, 'The Princess of Wales conservatory '
with its 10 different climates and relative
This was a very well laid out garden with
its high & low level footpaths & gantries,
to give the public good views of the various
groups of plant life.
We then headed for home via the lake with
its fountain and another view of the ‘Palm house’
and had a quick look in the ‘Visitors
Here there was the usual array of books,
bulbs, seeds & souvenirs to be had.
Finally, regarding the gardens as a whole,
there was one thing we did appreciate when walking around, and that was
the information that was available.
Too often I have visited gardens only
to find that on seeing something of particular interest to me, there were
no labels or people around to ask for details.
At Kew most of the major exhibits were
named and each of the beds were numbered suggesting that by asking the
staff, one might possibly
find a planting plan for each bed.
We were in the gardens for around five
hours and only managed to get around
three of the four ‘ trails ’ and even
then I don’t think we saw
all that there was to see in each area.
This is a garden to be visited many times
and at various times of the year to be really appreciated, so I guess
my son will be getting regular visits
from his parents in future.
In conclusion, I hope this little tour
has given you an idea of what is on offer at Kew.