Kew Gardens. This time Mary and I went together to Kew Gardens, known more formally as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. We arrived fairly early, after an obligatory coffee near the station, and decided to make straight for the Temperate House, recently reopened after refurbishment, before the crowds arrived.
It happened to be the first day of Gnomus’s residence there. He is ‘a font of knowledge, and caretaker of the earth’, hanging around the Temperate House to share with children special stories about the plants there, until the end of the summer holidays.
One corner inside. Views from the balcony.
From the balcony I also admired elements of the ironwork.
And ornamentation outside.
And I focussed on plants from above.
The story behind the leucospermum conocarpodendon below is interesting. In 2005, a Dutch researcher found 40 small packets of seeds in a leather notebook in the National Archives. The notebook belonged to a Dutch merchant whose ship was captured by the British navy in 1803. Kew’s Millenium Seedbank propagated this plant from one of those seeds. We moved on to the Great Pagoda, also recently refurbished. When it was built in 1762, it had dragons on every corner of its roof, but they only lasted until 1784. Thanks to donors, the original designs have been used to recreate the dragons, the lower ones carved from wood, the higher ones digitally printed. While Mary stayed down and worked on a crossword, I climbed to the top, 253 quite shallow steps. Access was by a broad central spiral staircase. I counted the steps between each floor, 33 to begin with, reducing to 21, so I suppose this was to give the impression, with perspective, that the tower is higher than it really is. Around the outside of the staircase is a broad landing in every floor, with considerate benches (that is a figure of speech!) on every second landing. At the top, the windows are glazed, and you cannot get out on to the balconies.
On our way to lunch:
After lunch we wandered down the Broad Walk. Then around a parkland area.
We sat for a while, both working further on the crossword (my part really just marvelling at the solutions Mary found).
A speedy passage through the sweltering Palm House, and out the other side, back to the café to pick up something to drink. This we consumed sitting on a bench nearby, reflecting on the day, and counting the intervals between the planes which were going over our heads to land at Heathrow Airport (every 60 to 70 seconds, poor residents). A lovely day, during which sunshine and cloud had appeared at totally convenient intervals for our comfort. We parted at Kew Gardens station, I for my Underground (which was largely over ground) for Paddington Station and the West Country, and Mary on her Overground (which was partly under ground) for North London.