Wednesday, 28 November 2012

First impressions

The Kew site is staggeringly vast, covering some 300 acres and containing glasshouses, lakes, laboratories and one of the largest compost heaps in Europe. Compared to the 10.5 acres of dear old Hidcote, it is all rather mind-boggling! The garden areas are mostly focused upon displaying the extensive collections of plants here, with an alpine garden, a winter garden, rhododendron dell, 17th century-style formal garden, rose garden and a whopping great arboretum that I keep finding myself lost in! The gardens were founded in 1759, but borne out of the Kew Park estate; lands owned in the 17th century by gentrified eggs who happened to be keen gardeners. This horticultural use of the land was continued by the royals who moved in later, with the botanical gardens starting up proper when Princess Augusta ordered the construction of a ‘physic garden’, for the display of “all the plants known on Earth”. 250-odd years later Kew is still offering up the best of the world’s flora, and I’m intending to share that with you here over the course of the next three years.
 
Kew Palace is the oldest building on the site, built in 1631. It is maintained independently by Historic Royal Palaces


The water lilies are one of the key attractions at Kew, with these huge leaf pads forming from plants grown by seed each year! The Waterlily House obviously houses some of these imposing chaps, but also the Princess of Wales Conservatory as seen here

The Grass Garden has been one of the real high points since I clambered aboard HMS Kew. Stipa ichu can be seen here flapping in the wind

The Palm House is Kew’s most iconic feature, but the peacocks that roam the gardens do an excellent job of stealing the show!

The size of the glasshouses is phenomenal, with the Temperate House easily harbouring 150-year old palms

Phoenix canariensis is one of the many huge palms seen inside

There are quite a few follies and ancient-looking temples about the place, but this one peering out over the Mediterranean Garden is the most beautiful

Mercifully, there are a few areas of herbaceous planting in the garden. The Duke’s Garden is one such area, and rest assured I will be following the action in here closely!

The scale of the place is enormous, typified here by the main lake with its river-like dimensions
 
The weird and the wonderful all reside at Kew! This is Strophanthus preussii, native to tropical Africa. Plenty more of this tropics mayhem to follow!
 

5 comments:

Doc said...

How exciting this new adventure of yours is, I am so jealous. I had a trip to Kew planned but it never happened before we left England and moved to America. It is on my “bucket list” as they say.

Susan Libertiny said...

How wonderful for you to share your photographs and first impressions. I visited Kew in 2007 and loved every moment of it. What a beautiful place. And the peacocks are rather bold. They definitely have no fear of humans. Best of luck with your latest adventure. I look forward to following your blog.

Martin Neill said...

Well Bertie, you certainly got my attention with your 'The Dream Is Dead' post, which I took at first to mean either you'd given up your studies or been thrown off the course for taking some naughty cuttings without permission...so I was relieved to discover you have simply reached the end of a chapter. But how wonderful to skip from one iconic garden to another! Best of luck at another of my favourite gardens - and as this one is nearer to me, I just might bump into you!

Gardens at Waters East said...

Great to visit your Blog. Just found it today. I was at Kew a number of years ago. So much to see. Thanks for all the photos and the reminders of my past visit. Loved it. Jack

Bertie Bainbridge said...

Greetings all!