A Morning in Kew Gardens

While spending a few days with a friend in London we had a rare dry day this summer and decided to explore Kew Gardens which is close to their flat. The last couple of times we have been here was for musical events in the evening. Our last daytime visit was in 2016. Entering via the Elizabeth Gate as soon as it opened, one of the first trees we came to was an Indian Horse Chestnut which had some seeds beginning to appear.  

Further on was a tall Weeping Silver Lime: James standing beside it gives an idea of how tall it was.  

Just past this were some agapanthus which were almost finished flowering. This one had a bee finding some nectar.

We then came upon Kew Palace. It was the royal retreat of George III and Queen Charlotte: royal occupation lasted from 1728 until 1818, with another short spell in 1844. The house opens an hour later than the main garden.

Walking on towards the woodland I noticed a sign near the entrance to a badger sett which that said there were twenty setts in the gardens. We passed some Canada Geese on the grass.

Later on, one sitting on the path was not at all bothered by us being close by.

There were several very large old trees including this Atlas Cedar

and Sweet Chestnut.  

On our way to the Bamboo Garden and the lake we passed a large section of rhododendrons. A notice next to this Rhododendron ponticum (the common rhododendron) said that it has been found by some scientists to be toxic to honey bees and a wild mining bee species. This plant is an invasive species and is probably contributing to the declining bee populations.

White mulberry is native to central China but is cultivated worldwide for the silk industry. The Romans first introduced them into the UK. It is a fast-growing short-lived tree which is grown to feed to silkworms in silk production.

Minka House is a 100 year old farmhouse that once stood in the city of Okazaki in Japan. The Yonezu family used it as their home after their original house had been bombed during the Second World War. It was donated to Kew and reconstructed here as a centerpiece of the 2001 Japan Festival in the UK.

The Bamboo Garden is close by. 

In my last garden the only bamboo that was not invasive and stayed where it had been planted was a Phyllostachys nigra variant.  The Lake had a swan family and a pair of coots with their two chicks and a gull snoozing on a rock on the lakeside.

On the banks were some colourful salvias.

Just across the lake bridge is a sculpture:  

The Wander Project has involved five inspiring leaders to contribute to new trails through the gardens: wanderers, adventurers, dreamers, protectors and time travellers. Heading on we passed an avenue of trees

and then walked down the Broad Avenue which is lined with plants.  

The Pagoda Tree was planted in 1760 and once stood 15m tall. Now only the lowermost branch survives with supports.

On a slight hillock is The Hive. It is an installation created to emphasise the importance of pollinators and is illuminated by almost 1,000 flickering LED lights in synch with orchestral music pulsating in time to vibrations produced by bees humming which were recorded in Kew beehives.

It is surrounded by a meadow.  

After that we saw a sculpture on the lawn: ‘A maxima ad minima – from the greatest to the least’ by Eduardo Paolozzi.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory has sections for succulents and cacti

with a wonderful one in flower.  

There are then moist sections for tropical rainforest plants

including large water lilies

and an arid plant section.  

The Palm House is situated near a pond    

Passing the Temple of Bellona which was built in 1760    

we reached the Shirley Sherwood Gallery to see an exhibition.  

Kew Gardens was once the site of the first mosque built on British soil in the 1760s. It was designed by William Chambers and was not intended for worship. He often built structures inspired by his travels. The exhibition  ‘Plants of the Qur’ān’ is the culmination of a research project between Kew scientist Dr Shahina Ghazanfar and botanical artist Sue Wickison. There are many detailed watercolour paintings and then it ends in a very colourful room.  

By the time we came out the gardens were getting very busy so we decided it was time to leave

Books and plants in London

Today was another day that began with books. On our way back to the hotel last night, we spotted a notice for the Bloomsbury Book Fair which was to take place today. It is a regular fixture but this is the first time we have coincided with it. It was quite large with numerous bookstalls and also maps, prints and ephemera. I found two books for my New Naturalist collection and one for my old Baedekers. I have to carry around a list of the volumes I have or I would be buying duplicates. We also found a 17th century map of Africa.
Books 10 Apr 2016-1
We then took the tube to Kew Gardens where we saw a small sample of what is to offer and I took some photographs which might be inspiration for abstract paintings at some point.
Kew Gardens 1 10 Apr 2016-1
Kew Gardens 3 10 Apr 2016-1
Kew Gardens 4 10 Apr 2016-1
The tulips were out, the daffodils almost over but there were some magnificent magnolias.
Kew Gardens 6 Magnolias 10 Apr 2016-1
Kew Gardens 7 Magnolia Stellata 10 Apr 2016-1
Afterwards we had a long leisurely lunch with relatives in Kew before heading back into Central London and planning for tomorrow.

Weekend in Kew & Richmond

A fairly uneventful drive in late summer sunshine down to southwest London to stay with friends. Dinner on Friday evening was in a local French restaurant and after a cooked breakfast provided by our host we all had went to Kew Gardens. I don’t think I have been there at this time of year before and cannot remember such a warm September. There were many new things to see and taking a note of Nasreen Mohamedi’s close-up paintings of sections of buildings, I took some photographs of parts of plants. We climbed to the top of the Treetop Walkway and enjoyed being among the tops of the trees.
Autumn Crocus Kew Gardens Sept 2014-0031

Grass Kew Gardens Sept 2014-0037

Leaves Kew Gardens Sept 2014-0036

Cricket was being played on Kew Green when we left the gardens, a very English sight. After a drink in the local pub we took a bus to Richmond for a pre-theatre dinner and then saw The Widowing of Mrs Holroyd by DH Lawrence at the Orange Tree Theatre which is in the round. I have read Lawrence’s novels and poetry but was not familiar with this play. The gas lamp and furniture of the set and the East Midlands accents took me right back to my great aunt’s house and there was even a reference to Old Brinsley Pit, near where we lived and only a couple of miles from where Lawrence was born. The first half of the play kept us enthralled but the second act petered out at the end leaving us feeling something else should have happened. Anyway, we took a taxi back to a pub which had live music and ended the evening there. On Sunday, before leaving, we visited Richmond Park. We had coffee on the terrace at Pembroke Lodge, watching some jackdaws searching for food that had fallen on the ground and then walked around the area, admiring the views and the forest.
Jackdaws Richmond Park Sept 2014-0057

Gate Richmond Park Sept 2014-0059

All too soon we had to get back for lunch and then back up the motorway with the temperature still in the mid twenties centigrade.