The Kew is Kewl! (Part 2)

I forgot to mention one key feature of the Palm House that was unexpected – and absolutely a “must see”:  From the Palm House, you can descend a short staircase to view the Aquatic Center… yep! An area devoted exclusively to marine plants and animals! In addition to really cool sand eels, they had a variety of jellyfish that thrives in brackish water… I wanted to take them home with me!

Meanwhile, two of the Kew’s features that I most wanted to see was 1) Sacklers Crossing and 2) the Pagoda.

Set in the Japanese vista, the Pagoda represents the English fascination with chinoiserie – and you can take a really long grass walkway from the Palm House right up to its front door. Framed by ancient trees, all in color, and softened by English fog, it really is an amazing sight.

View down Pagoda Walk, from the Palm House

Meanwhile, Sacklers Crossing represents the “S” curve found in nature and it wasn’t until I was standing on it that I realized how it had been constructed.  Just me and the 20 or so ducks and swans that afternoon… careful watched from a distance by two grooming peahens. I could get used to this!

Sackler’s Crossing at Kew

Next up was the Temperate House, which apparently is the world’s largest surviving Victorian glass structure… and it, too, is spectacular. About the same size as the Palm House – it also features an elevated walkway – it used to be the largest glasshouse on Earth (if that helps give you some perspective).

Speaking of ‘perspective’… here’s the Temperate House as seen from the elevated walk! If you squint, you might see central London in the background…

Behind it, I got to experience the Evolution House, which was actually a really interesting installation that literally walks you through the evolution of the planet from when Earth was first formed. You walk down an ever-changing path until you’re in ‘contemporary’ time period. I definitely recommend it – but maybe not if it’s really crowded. (I was there alone!)

From the Pagoda, I headed over to the Shirley Sherwood Collection gallery, which houses one of the most amazing collections of botanical art I have ever seen… from antique prints to contemporary artists. I ended up buying a gorgeous book entitled “The Art of Plant Evolution” which uses artworks from the collection to outline the plant kingdom… truly fascinating and beautiful!  (I also managed to carry home “A Treasury of Botanical Art” by Shirley Sherwood, which showcases a few hundred items from her collection – which numbers in the thousands.) Totally worth the sore shoulders! 😉

The old gallery

Among my favorite works we several watercolors of mushrooms done by Alexander Vizmensky – simply breathtaking!

Devil is in the details!

Last then it was time for me to start making my way back towards the train station… the park was closing in 20 minutes! The best part:  I’ve only covered about 1/3 of the Gardens!  So I will definitely need to come back…

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