The Kew is Kewl! (Part 1)

Today I attempted Kew Gardens… and though the weather is a bit overcast and foggy – I’ve got to say that it was definitely worth the trip!

The next to last stop on the Richmond line (or you can take the overground) – the garden is a short walk from the train station in an adorable little center of shops and cafes. One of my favorites:

After browsing a bit, I made my way down a residential street towards the Gardens’ Victoria Gate entrance. Cool thing: the entire street was lined predominantly with London Planes – all of which were pollarded! In fact, about 2/3 the way down the street, there was a tree company cutting one Plane that looked like it had been allowed to grow unabated this year.  Surprisingly, the front yards in many of the houses were pretty simply planted… you would think that there would be some competition to have the best-looking front yard with such proximity to the garden!

Upon entering the Gardens, I made a beeline to the Palm House, which was to close at 2pm that day. Apparently, they’ve found an invasive bug in the conservatory and spend the afternoon cutting back affected plants. Now, having been in the greenhouse, I can completely appreciate the amount of work this would entail!

The conservatory is literally 2-stories; you can ascend to a catwalk via circular staircase on either end of the main room… which offers an amazing overhead view of plants that are literally stories tall! http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/garden-attractions-A-Z/Palm-House.htm

The Palm House

One of my favorite plants was a cycad that Kew believes to be “the oldest potted plant” in England… it was brought to the Gardens just as it was being established – more than 200 years ago! – and has remained in the Palm House ever since. Here it is:  http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/garden-attractions-A-Z/eastern-cape-giant-cycad.htm.

As much as you can not appreciate the English penchant for grabbing antiquities etc. to bring back to Britain – you have to kind of admire how rich their collections are!

From there, I visited the Water Lily conservatory – in which they feature a huge assortment of water lilies, including the Giant waterlilies (Victoria amazonica) – a variation on the immense water lilies found in Brazil, but were bred to “fit” the pond here, in honor of Queen Victoria.  You can see them here: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/garden-attractions-A-Z/giant-waterlilies.htm.

Moving on, I headed towards the western end of the Gardens via Holly Walk – which used to be the main thoroughfare for residents moving between central London and Richmond. Now, it’s home to more than 60 varieties of holly – truly spectacular!

Tucked just north of Holly Walk is one of Kews’ most progressive installations: The Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway!  Offering an elevated view of the Gardens about 3 stories above the ground, you’re eye level with the tree canopy of several varieties of chestnut trees, etc. What was kind of cool is that I’ve never really seen chestnut fruit clusters from this angle; the “fruit” that had opened and expelled their seed looked like white flowers to me at first – but upon closer inspection I realized that I was simply looking at the inside of the pericarp!

The elevated walkway

More to come with Part II….

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