Sunday, 2 November 2014

Kew Gardens

After a sausage sandwich and a pint of Adnams Topaz (well Sue had orange juice) we went to Kew. We entered via the Elizabeth gate and soon were looking across the grass at Kew Palace - Originally  the home to a rich Flemish merchant, the first royal residents were George II, his wife Queen Caroline and their ever-growing family. However, Kew Palace will always be associated with the ‘madness’ of George III.

We then walked on to the centre of the gardens, past King William's Temple,

and on to the tree top walkway - best described on the Kew Gardens' website
'Opened on International Biodiversity Day 2008, the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway stands in the Arboretum, between the Temperate House and the lake.It was designed by Marks Barfield Architects, who also designed the London Eye. The 18-metre high, 200-metre walkway enables visitors to walk around the crowns of lime, sweet chestnut and oak trees. Supported by rusted steel columns that blend in with the natural environment, it provides opportunities for inspecting birds, insects, lichen and fungi at close quarters, as well as seeing blossom emerging and seed pods bursting open in Spring. The walkway’s structure is based on a Fibonacci numerical sequence, which is often present in nature’s growth patterns.'

Great views (albeit we were too early for real Autumn colour)

..especially of the Temporate House (which is being refurbished and is not open at the moment)...

..and the macaws (which you could hear everywhere even if you couldn't see them !).

We then started to walk back crossing the Pagoda Vista...

...and then the Rose Garden in front of the Palm House. The Palm House is considered to be the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world. It was designed by Decimus Burton and engineered by Richard Tanner to accommodate the exotic palms being collected and introduced to Europe in early Victorian times.

We also came to a second view point - the Syon Vista.

Whilst most roses were over a few still had some loooms - 'Rosa Golden Celebration'

and 'Rosa Wisley 2008'.

Inside the Palm House were some amazing plants including this Banana  (Musa - Ice Cream).

and 'Encephalartos altensteinii (Eastern Cape giant cycad)' - from the Kew Gardens website
'The name Encephalartos is derived from the Greek, and means ‘bread in the head’. This refers to the practice of removing the pith from the cycad's stem and burying it in the ground for two months before kneading it into bread and baking it in embers. During the two-month burial, toxins within the pith are destroyed.
The superb specimen of this cycad at Kew is one of the oldest pot plants in the world. It was collected in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa in the early 1770s and brought back to England in 1775 by Francis Masson, one of Kew's earliest plant collectors. For many years the Kew plant was known as E. longifolius but recent studies in South Africa have proved that it is E. altensteinii. The cycad now measures 4 m 23 cm from the base of its stem to the growing point (an average growth rate of only 2.5 cm per year). It has produced a cone only once at Kew. On that occasion in 1819, Sir Joseph Banks came to view the plant on what proved to be his last visit to Kew.'

Time for a cup of tea sat by the pond in front of the Palm House.

A few more birds joined us:


then on the way to the Grass garden we met a peacock.

The Grass garden was the highlight of our visit

Near by was the Davies Alpine House which opened in 2006. 
Although the glasshouse is only 16 metres (50 feet) long, its roof reaches ten metres (33 feet) high. This creates a stack effect that draws in cool air through permanent openings on either side and releases warm air through vents in the roof. Meanwhile, a fan blows air through a concrete labyrinth beneath the ground. The air cools on its convoluted journey and is released into the glasshouse through steel pipes.
The panes of glass are 12mm thick and have a low iron content which allows over 90 per cent of light through. Meanwhile, fan-like shades on the east and west sides of the glasshouse protect plants from the most intense heat of the summer sun.

and the Princess Of Wales Conservatory (named after Princess Augusta, founder of Kew, and opened in 1987 by Diana, Princess of Wales. It is the most complex conservatory at Kew, containing ten computer-controlled climatic zones under one roof.)

Inside again were some more amazing plants.

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