Kew Gardens has eluded me since I have lived in London. I’m not sure why, but every time I have set out to make a visit, I have somehow been thrown off the carousel before even getting near. So this time, I planned it. I took a day off work and spent a lovely Septmeber afternoon flitting around in the dappled light of the great trees.
One of my main reasons for going was to see the old glasshouses. Since living near to the Botanical Gardens in Glasgow I have always fostered a secret love of the Victorian’s passion for building ornate and visually arresting glasshouses and Kew has a fair share of them to see. The design of these structures has always struck me as being skeletal – Perhaps rather like a giant whale carcass. But it’s the subtle botanical design features in the metal work, the crumbling white paint and the dizzying spiral staircases that lead to rickety gantries that really personify the Victorian glasshouse. Almost all of the glasshouse at Kew have hand-blown glass. In today’s world, I doubt there would be the civil finance to build such structures. In fact, I doubt there would even be the ironmongery skills on hand to make such a project viable.
There are several climatic themes to choose from at Kew. From desert arid to the tropical palm house, it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to immerse yourself into the torrid heat and then move into a cooler zones or vice versa. Some of the plating in there is particularly impressive too; there are huge palms that have reached the roof lines and are curving over like stooped giants.
Kew is pricey to get in. But they sometimes have 2 for 1 deals on their website, which come in handy. Get yourself down there as the trees are turning this Autumn.