Thursday, 3 January 2013

My Botanical Adventure

Went to Kew Gardens for the first time today.  I really should've gone sooner.  The guide thingy suggests you leave yourself two to three hours to get around the place - aye, sure, if you're an anorexic on a souped-up granny scooter being piloted by the Stig!  I was there for five hours and I reckon I'm lucky if I got to experience half of it.  I'm going to include the bulk of the photos on a separate page because I took 103, but I'll post a choice few here.  I went in the Winter, so I presume you've got to see it again in the Spring, Summer and Autumn to really get a sense of the lifecycles of the specimens there.

 Me amidst an amazing collection of palms and ferns

The Coffin Tree can grow to be among the tallest trees in the world!

This fish was watching me.  

This Cycad is older than Kew Gardens.  Cycads as a bunch are older than the dinosaurs!

And for reference, here's a cycad being munched on by a Triceratops

This is a Banksia, named for a local boy...

There's a gallery of botanical art there, it has its own building, The Marianne North Gallery.  It features a load of paintings by Marianne North plus the Shirley Sherwood Collection, a collection of paintings by various artists.  There's a whole section on fungus for any myco geeks.  Sadly, no photos allowed.

I stopped for a burger halfway through.  It was a hell of a burger!  Venison.  You heard me; a venison burger!  Venison, in a burger.  I'll stop now.  

There were piranhas

The turtles were nothing like the ones you see on the telly though.  They weren't even armed!  Bit naff really.  

Now the Kew Pagoda is a bit of a local landmark.  You can see it from over the Thames in Brentford, from half of Richmond and Sheen, and of course from the top of a 65 bus.  So I decided to see where in the Gardens I could grab the best long shot of the Pagoda.  

Here's it up close

The Treetop Walkway is the highest publicly-climbable structure in the Gardens.  The Pagoda is taller but you aren't allowed up it.  Here's the walkway:

I expected the views from there to be amazing, and they are!  You need to get that high and see Brentford, see Sheen, to remind yourself that you're still in London.  

But the view of the Pagoda was obscured by tree branches.  

Still, at least in the Winter you can see it at all.  In the Summer that'll be a wall of green.  The view from the top of the Temperate Greenhouse (the biggest greenhouse) is significantly clearer, albeit with a big tree blocking part of it

Best view however was straight down the Cedar Vista from the corner of that wee lake in the North of the Gardens:

These parakeets live all over Richmond Borough.  A shitload escaped from some private collection back in like Victorian times or something and the rest is history.  Their ubiquity in Strawberry Hill has seen them nicknamed "green pigeons".  

I saw a Japanese Minka house.  These were made of wood and ridiculously versatile and durable.  

I saved the Evolution exhibition for last.  It was cool, though some prat had vandalised part of it.  It was full of fossils, ancient living species and models of ancient extinct species.  These Liverwort have been around for 400 million years - twice as long as the mighty Cycads!

A fossil

Aaand I'll put the rest on a side page, because there's bloody loads of them!  Suffice it to say that a great day was had and I'll be back there in the Spring.  


  1. I cannot believe you haven't been to Kew Gardens until now! Were you able to get one of the free tickets?

    We have membership, so if you ever want to go for free again let me know - I'd be happy to accompany you (as long as it's weekend or holiday!). My favourite place is the Temperate House - it basically looks like a scaled-up version of my garden! :)

    1. Wow! That would be freaking awesome! Yes, I will absolutely take you up on that. I got a free ticket, though I'm not averse to paying for that much botany.

  2. Can't believe you went to Kew Gardens and didn't invite me *grumbles*. Glad you had a good time though :D

    1. Sorry mate, as it was my first time I wanted to be a bit selfish and see what I wanted to see.