Broad Walk, Gnomus, Heathrow Airport, Kew Gardens, leucospermum conocarpodendon, Pagoda, Palm House, Pyrenean Pine, Richmaond Lawn Tennis Club, Royal Botanic Gardens, Temperate House
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.
Excellent photographs of the temperate house and of the rest of your day. Sorry about the planes though.
They didn’t spoil our day!
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The planes are a pest. You wonder how anyone can think that an extra runway is a good thing.
A very nice illustrated tour of the garden. Thank you.
The local residents agree with you!
Olive Simpson said:
I still have to spend a day in Kew Gardens – great pictures! I was at a garden party in Richmond last week and at three o’clock the flight path changed and we were deafened for the rest of the afternoon. I don’t know how they cope!
I was canvassing there a couple of years ago, on that very issue. Richmond Park – and a tiny bit of Kensington – figure on a film I saw yesterday, ‘Patrick’, a bit of feel good fluff – and no extraneous aircraft noise. As for visiting Kew, perhaps waiting a little longer for it to green up again would be apt for a first time…
Hazel Priestley-Hobbs said:
How lovely to share your tour of Kew and I’m impressed with your having the stamina to climb the pagoda. It’s many years since I’ve been there but have fond memories of family outings to Kew by bus as a child and ‘dates’ as a teenager !
No family outing or date for me there, but I do remember a school trip – and whether it was with primary or secondary school, there is a good chance you were there too! And Eva F lived right by…
Very much enjoyed the reminder of our Kew visit. Excellent photographs.
With over a hundred photos to choose from, I had to omit the one of you doing the crossword, taken from the second floor of the Pagoda.
What a pleasant day for you and Mary. Beginning with a serendipitous encounter with Gnomus. The video makes me feel as if I were right next to you.
Splendid photos of the Temperate House. The word that comes to my mind is elegant. Even the dragons, though fierce would be better suited for them!
Your ascent of the Pagoda was well worth it. Bravo and thank you for this visit!
Yes, I agree that the Temperate House – and indeed the other greenhouses at Kew – is very elegant. I remember the feeling the same about the delicacy of a 19th century church in Paris, which likewise was held up by ironwork – St-Eugène-Ste-Cécile.