Impromptu visit to Kew

One of my favourite places in London is Kew Gardens, so when my sister and her husband invited me for an impromptu trip recently I couldn’t say no. Kew is known for having plants, trees and flowers from around the world, there’s so much to see and it’s a great place to get lost in for the day.

First stop was the Hive which is a large structure made of metal and has lights that blink according to bee activity in a real beehive at Kew.

You can’t go to Kew and not visit the Palm House, which holds tropical plants from around the world. It’s usually really hot in here and as usual I had to wait for my camera to de-fog before I could take some photos. One plant we were pleased to find was the Sensitive plant. When you touch the open leaves they react immediately and close together.

From there we went to the Waterlily House hoping to find the giant lily pads that I remember from my childhood but have missed on my previous visits. Unfortunately they’d been moved, so I’ll have to try again another time. I did, however see some pretty waterlily flowers though.

Next we went to the Woodland area, and with it being late summer and the weather unsettled we got caught in a heavy downpour, thankfully though we were able to shelter under a giant Elm tree until the rain stopped. The Woodland area had a great number of trees of all types, my favourite though were the Redwood trees. These giants have a reddish, rough grain trunk and can grow to a phenomenal size.

Walking further along came across a huge wooden table, which seems like it would be perfect for all my family when they come to dinner! And hidden nearby was a log trail that you could walk across, made up of different types of trees, so educational as well as fun. There was also a badger set and tunnels you could go into.

By the time we reached the log trail we’d made it to the far end of the grounds and it was getting late so we started heading back towards the gates. I had a relaxing, fun day out and it’s always a pleasure and a privilege to see the beautiful plants, trees and flowers that can be found around the world so close to where I live.

Red robin

Robin

During my trip to Kew a few years ago I was lucky enough to capture what I thought was a nice photo of a robin. On my trip back a couple of weeks ago I was really happy at managing to capture this image of the bird. I love seeing robins with their red breasts and it always makes my day when I spot one.

Orchids festival

Recently I took a trip to Kew Gardens with my last visit being a few years ago. I love Kew Gardens and all the different plants, trees and flowers it has from around the world. I can spent hours there and not lose interest or manage to see everything. My trip this time was to specifically see the Orchids Festival which celebrated the rich biodiversity of Brazil.

Upon entry of the conservatory there was a lovely floral scent and my eyes were drawn to the wide range of flowers in artistic displays hanging from the ceilings and wrapped around pillars. A very unusual plant that caught my eye was Nepenthes. Nepenthes is shaped like a pod and is insectivorous, meaning that it traps and digests insects. This plant was used to create shape and colour in archways to walk under.

The bright colours and the different shapes and sizes of the exotic flowers drew my attention and I found myself weaving along the path from one flower to another delighted that I was able to take a closer look.

The Orchid Festival was really popular and I would certainly recommend a visit. The flowers on show were beautiful in various, vibrant colours and really captured the theme of carnival season in Brazil.

Greenhouse at dusk

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This greenhouse is called Temperate House and can be found at Kew Gardens. It is currently being restored and is closed off to the public but I like how it sits in this image with the pagoda almost a silhouette in the distance. The most arresting part of the image, for me though, is the cloud filled sky which was captured just as the sun was beginning to set, making it feel as if they could almost let off a light all of their own

Kew Gardens โ€“ Autumn visit 4

One of the things I was most excited about seeing at Kew Gardens was the Xstrata Treetop Walkway that was constructed a few years ago. The idea behind the walkway was to enable people to walk among the tree tops to get a closer look at the best part of the trees; the branches and leaves which aren’t usually easily accessible. Walking toward the structure it seems to appear suddenly from amongst the trees.

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To access the walkway you have to climb up a winding staircase with mesh sides, allowing you to see the view as you ascend. For those that can’t quite manage the stairs there’s also a lift that will take you to the top. The walkway is 59 feet high from where you get a great view

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I was able to get really close to some of the branches but as it was Autumn some of the closer trees had already shed their leaves. I expect the walkway is even more enjoyable in Summer when leaves are aplenty

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Another one of the other things I spotted almost immediatley as I entered the Gardens was this tall structure in the distance. I could tell straight away that it looked like a giant Pagoda like those found in Japan and wondered what it was doing in London!

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It turns out that the Pagoda was completed by Sir William Chambers in 1762 and that there is also a section dedicated to a Japanese landscape, with plants and flowers typically found in the country as well as a structure called the Chokushi-Mon meaning Gateway of the Imperial Messenger

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I thought the Japanese landscape was really nice and something different. I especially liked how tidy and organised it was (and if you look carefully you can see there is a circular pattern created in the pebbles)

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Kew Gardens, I saw some amazing plants, trees and flowers, some that don’t originate from England and learnt a lot whilst walking around, soaking in the fresh air and peace and quiet. I think the gardens are something really special and the thing I like most is that you could visit at various times over a twelve month period and there would always be something new or different to see. I really hope I will be able to go back later this year when the plants and flowers are in bloom and nature has something else to share.

I hope you have enjoyed my photos and there is still so much I didn’t see or haven’t posted about so please don’t think that I have covered even a fraction of what else can be found at Kew. I would definitely recommend a visit if you like being outdoors and are interested in all things green.

For more on Kew gardens please see my previous posts

Kew Gardens – Autumn Visit 1
Kew Gardens – Autumn Visit 2
Kew Gardens – Autumn Visit 3

Kew Gardens โ€“ Autumn visit 3

At Kew Gardens one of the areas that was quite seasonal to the autum/winter period was the berry walk, with lots of different species of berries dotted about. I’m not sure if any were edible but they looked pretty in various colours and shades.

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I found it interesting how some berries look quite similar in colour and size but the leaves on the branches and bushes look quite different or didn’t have any at all

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I love the purple colour of these berries, which are called Callicarpa japonica and are not edible but can be used to make herbal tea which sounds interesting

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Walking around I also spotted that there were several types of mushrooms growing, mainly under trees where dead leaves and foliage can decompose in the moist air, nourishing and encouraging fungal growth. I was quite fascinated with them as I haven’t seen so many different types of mushrooms growing in nature, but at the same time I did feel quite grossed out so I didn’t get too close and relied on my zoom to get a better look

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I do quite like these ones though, the creases on the stem make it look like they have a wrapping around them

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One of the things I really liked at Kew was that although it is clear to see that plants and trees have been categorised according to types, species and even climate, British nature has found a way to join in, to become part of a particular area no matter where it comes from, such as mushrooms under pine trees or squirrels up Redwoods.

My other posts of Kew Gardens can be found on the links below
Kew Gardens part 1
Kew gardens part 2

Kew Gardens โ€“ Autumn visit 2

In part 1 I talked about the Palm House at Kew gardens; here I want to share my photos of the trees in the gardens. Many of the trees had leaves in brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red and once I spotted these trees they just drew me to them.

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There were so many trees making it feel as though I was in the middle of a forest and I have to admit it made me think of those scenes in films of nature looking colourful, grand and peaceful.

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I did also come across this weird looking thing. Looking at the sign attached, it said this was a ‘tree whisperer’. I’m guessing playing certain types of sounds and music must help the trees grow (or maybe keep them company)

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I also came across several trees that had fallen over, but what I really liked was that the trees had been left where they has fallen so people can see the roots and earth around it to get a feel of how things would be in their natural habitat (here they have of course cut away the branches so you can get up close and not hurt yourself)

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There were also some great, tall trees that seemed to be placed neatly in rows, that really reminded me of a woodland area. Trees were spaced out leaving the air feeling fresher too.

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My favourite big trees though were the Redwoods. I have seen these trees on television and read about them to know that these can grow to be enormous and live for a very long time. I loved the reddish colour and texture of trunks, with the branches shooting out high above.

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What I found mind blowing was just how wide the trunks can grow – there is a plaque in the middle of the path with measurements

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And in case you can’t quite tell – it’s the size of the outer ring shown in the photo below!

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I came across this quote from John Steinbeck “The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” And I have to admit that is exactly how they made me feel; of all the photos I’ve taken of them none feel like they are even close to caturing the granduer of these trees – they really do leave you awe struck.

There were so many more trees, such as fir trees and pine trees but I couldn’t possibly try to include them all in this one post. The trees are arranged in different areas so you get a feel for their natural environment. Each area is so different to the next; in the way the air feels around them – some parts being stuffy as the branches and surrounding foliage being quite dense to the more spaced out taller trees being brighter . I have to say that this was the best part of my visit, just being able to walk around and take in the colours, smells and textures. It may sound a bit cliched but it felt really good for my soul, it was so peaceful and made me feel really close to nature, and definitely what I needed.

Kew Gardens – Autumn visit

I recently went to Kew Gardens in West London; the last time I went was in school and I’d been meaning to go back ever since, especially as over the last couple of years there’s been some changes. For some reason or another I just wasn’t able to go, so a couple of weeks ago I decided not to wait anymore and just go. Initially I was a bit apprehensive about going in late autumn, as I imagined that most of the trees would have shed their leaves and there wouldn’t be much to look at, as well as the point that I always imagined going in late spring/early summer to see nature blossoming. In the end I decided to go anyway and see what there was to see, and learn from the experience.

I packed my DSLR camera to take with me and got there by mid morning. I was really lucky with the weather as it was nice and bright, and not grey and cloudy like it had been in previous days. I was also pleased to see that as we’ve had a mild autumn in London so far, most of the trees still had their leaves, and many were in now in brilliant shades of yellow, red and orange, which in the bright sun looked even more magnificent.

Here are a few of the photos that I was able to take whilst there, but what I didn’t realise was just how big the Gardens were- that after walking around for about 5 hours I still hadn’t managed to see all of it!

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Seeing as I managed to take lots of photos and because there’s was so much to see I’ve decided to do separate posts on different parts of Kew Gardens, this one being about the Palm House which houses plants from tropical and subtropical climates all over the world

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Here’s a banana tree with bananas growing from it, with leaves so big you could place two grown ups end to end and the leaves would still be bigger! There was also a pineapple plant – these pineapples were so tiny – the size of walnuts

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The walkways were full of leaves growing over it, giving you a an idea of how they would grow in their natural habitat

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There was a strange looking plant growing in the Palm House too called a Cycad, that is known as a living fossil. These plants have been around before dinosaurs, living up to 2500 years long!

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There is so much more to see but I don’t want to post too many photos of one area in case you want to visit the Gardens soon. I will hopefully be able to do another post soon on another part of Kew gardens