Friday, 31 August 2018

Waterlily House


Thanks for popping in.

I've saved the best house till last on our trip round Kew Gardens, the Waterlily House. It's the hottest, most humid and smallest plant house but oh, it's so beautiful in Summer when the waterlilies are flowering.  You feel like you've stepped into a painting or a tapestry.

The building was specifically designed to show off the giant Victoria Amazonica Waterlily in 1852. The circular pond also has fish and is dyed black to keep down the algae.

The waterlilies are grown from seed each year and are hand pollinated, rather than by beetle like in the wild, to obtain seed for the next year.

The giant waterlilies were found in Bolivia in 1801.

Other plants grow in the house including gourds with their dangly fruits hanging down around the side of the building.

The photos don't do it justice, it really is a magical place.

That ends our tour of Kew Gardens, there is still heaps more to see with the Tree-top Walkway, Nash Conservatory, Princess Charlotte's Cottage to name but a few.

Kew does a marvellous job in conservation and scientific research, there's even the Millennium Seed Bank at their other property Wakehurst in Sussex.  If you need any other information, here's their website.

At least the money paid for your entry ticket is going to an important cause to make the world a better place.


Thursday, 30 August 2018

Palm House


Thanks for popping in.

The Kew Gardens Temperate House is in the news at the moment following its restoration but Decimus Burton had designed The Palm House, constructed by Richard Turner between 1844-1948, beforehand.  It survives today and is the most important Victorian iron and glass house in the world.  Being such a large structure, shipbuilding techniques were employed.

The planting in the parterre in front of the building is changed twice a year as they used to when it first opened and it always looks stunning.

The Palm House Pond makes the Palm House look even more spectacular.

It's interesting to know that the tower shown in the photo below is actually part of the Victorian Palm House heating system disguised as a campanile.  If you'd like to read about the underground railway, pipes and boilers, have a look at this link.

It certainly is hot and wet inside, you won't want your coat!  The plants are tall and piled in together to create tropical rainforest conditions. Underneath the canopies way up high, are the smaller plants. Many of the plants are endangered but at Kew they are safe and can be studied.

Outside it now feels freezing!

I wouldn't like to live in those tropical conditions, would you?


Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Princess of Wales Conservatory


Thanks for visiting.

For sheer diversity of climate and associated plants, the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens cannot be missed.

Passing through each small section of climate controlled glass house, wonders abound.  Then there's a door to go through or stairs to climb and another world unfolds.  In fact there are 10 different zones with plants ranging from cacti to carnivorous plants, ferns to orchids.

The Conservatory is named after Princess Augusta wife of Frederick Prince of Wales and Mother of George III who founded Kew Gardens.  It was opened by Diana, also Princess of Wales in 1987.

There's sure to be something for everyone there.


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Ancient Trees


Thanks for popping in.

You can't go to Kew Gardens without expecting to see a few ancient trees amongst all the youngsters!

Look at this beast of a Japanese Pagoda Tree planted in 1760.  Kew has had to build a little brick wall round the trunk and support it with iron girders.  The tree actually came from the Temperate woodland of China via Japan, usually grown by Buddhist temples.  

It's used for timber furniture, medicine and food plus a yellow dye can be made from its seedpods.

Here's another tree, this time from the Blue Mountains near Sydney Australia.  This type of tree, Wollemi Pine, was once a dinosaur's breakfast and was only known about from fossils.  It was found in 1994 and a programme was set up by Kew to make them widely available and save the species as only 100 mature trees survive in the wild.  In 2005 the first generation of the trees were auctioned off for $3,000 each in Sydney and now you can buy one in the gift shop at Kew!

Here's an enormous Maidenhair tree, Gingko Bilboa, known as a living fossil and is the sole survivor of an ancient genus from before the time of the dinosaurs.  It was planted in 1762, comes from China and is used for medicinal purposes.  Green at this time of the year, it turns a striking yellow in the Autumn.



Monday, 27 August 2018

The Hive


Thanks for visiting.

If you've been reading my last few blog posts, you'll be settled into our visit to Kew Gardens.  You might have noticed a rather strange exhibit when we looked at the Great Broad Walk.  It's The Hive.

It was created for the 2015 Milan Expo by Wolfgang Buttress, Simmonds Studio, Stage One and BDP and it has been made to draw attention to those really important insects, the pollinators.

Made to resemble a beehive, it is actually linked to one of Kew's real hives and its 1,000 LED lights flicker in time to the vibrations of the messages sent by the real bees to each other in the beehive.

The cloud like shape can be entered underneath or you can walk up a hill seeded with wild flowers to floor level.  It's quite hypnotic as the lights flash gently on and off and the hum of the specially recorded music buzzes away.

I loved all the shapes and patterns created as you look up and down.

The floor is semi-transparent but also reflective.

Here's a little recording of the buzz.

The photo below was taken underneath looking up through the floor where you can see the shoes of those above.

The Hive was just my cup of tea.


Friday, 24 August 2018

Great Broad Walk


Thanks for visiting.

One of the areas I wanted to visit at Kew Gardens was the relatively new Great Broadwalk borders leading from the Palm House Pond to the Orangery restaurant.  The double herbaceous borders stretch for 320 metres and are full of summer flowers.

It's difficult to take such a large area of border, with 30,000 plants, in at the same time and even taking a photo means you get only a couple of different plants at a time.  Luckily there were some planting plans along the route to show the variety and shapes that have been made.

Planted two years ago, to reflect the original William Nesfield design of the 1840s, by Richard Wilford, Manager of Garden Design at Kew, the flowers look stunning to the visitors and pollinators alike.

The cedar cone finals on the climbing rose supports hark back to the cedars originally grown on the site.

There should be colour all the way through the season until the Autumn.


Thursday, 23 August 2018

Temperate House


Thanks for popping in.

No doubt you've heard that the Temperate House at Kew Gardens has been restored to its former Victorian splendour.  It's taken 5 years to complete but now it looks magnificent.

It originally opened to the public in 1863 but took 36 more years to complete, was designed by Decimus Burton., causing quite a stir.

The 191m glasshouse contains plants from Australia, Africa, The Americas, New Zealand, Himalaya, Asia and Pacific Islands.  The temperate zones are where most of us live.  The Temperate House keeps these plants safe from extinction.  During the restoration, 10,000 plants had to be moved and then replanted 15,000 panes of glass were replaced and 69,000 parts of the structure were removed, cleaned and repaired or replaced.  400 staff members worked on it, some of whom used 5,280 litres of paint. What a job! 

The result is so light and airy, sparkly even.  All beautifully finished off.

South side Entrance
The Eastern Octagon

The visitors were being entertained by a giant puppet called Gnomus accompanied by an Explainer pointing out the stories behind the different plants.  Cirque Bijou entertains at the weekend to get the visitor numbers up as they really could do with extra funds.

Heading up the stairs, you can really appreciate the layout in this middle section.  There are 6 separate glasshouses joined together.  It is enormous!

Central section Australia New Zealand, The Americas, Pacific Islands, Himalaya

The plants need to be under glass with the temperature above 10°C - not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry.  Now the heating and ventilation systems have been much improved with vents that had been painted shut opening once again.

Western Octagon

Western Australia section