this weekend i was invited along to kew royal botantic gardens to set sail with my two fellow intrepid travellers and explore a vast array of different worlds, from the heat of the tropical rainforest to the tranquility of the alps.
it didn’t matter what the eccentric british weather threw at us, in the exotic palm house we immersed ourselves in the steamy heat of the tropics and discovered the biodiversity of the rainforest canopy, from brazilian tropical palms to ancient cycads. designed by decimus burton and expertly engineered by richard turner, the elegant and curvaceous glasshouse building was constructed between 1844 and 1848, and is considered by experts to be the most important surviving victorian iron and glass structure in the world. i loved its stark yet sleek silhouette, which resembles the upturned hull of a ship, and inside is an awe-inspiringly vast, light and lofty space that easily accommodates the crowns of the heady tropical palms.
in the waterlily house we were greeted by giant victoria cruziana waterlily and a whole plethora of exotic brightly hued blooms, which provided fantastic inspiration for my first ever reel of 120 film on my beautiful new diana f+ camera (more on that to follow…)
by a wonderful twist of fate our visit coincided with the open day of the tropical nursery, and beyond a pair of wrought iron gates near kew palace we were whisked away to a land of scientific collections and cultivated plants, which provided one – of many – highlights of the day (another being a delectable cone of peanut butter ice cream, consumed on a bench in the rain – how very british!)
the nursery provides facilities for propagating, establishing and growing on plants from various habitats within the world’s tropical and subtropical regions, and there are over 45,000 plants held there at any one time. we roamed the halls like kids in a candy store, peering eargerly into the climate controlled chambers to spy on the delightful flora species being nutured, which included cacti, succulents, breathtaking orchids and spine-tingling tropical carnivores.
recovering from all the excitement with the afforementioned ice cream in the rain, we journeyed across the globe to admire the stunning display of australian flora at brentford gate, moving from the east coast across the western granite outcrops in a matter of minutes! through a heady bamboo glade we then sped, discovering a traditional japanese minka house along the way, before climbing 18 metres high into the tree canopy for a unique birds-eye view across kew and beyond!
at the japanese gateway we relaxed in the tranquil oriental landscape under the watchful gaze of the remarkable and iconic chinese-style pagoda, the ten story octagonal structure looming forebodingly under the threatening stormy sky. along its tree-lined vista we then scurried, past the temperate house and through the beautiful and aromatic mediterranean garden, where the heady scent of tuscan olive, italian cyress and stone pine was underpinned by the fragrant lavenders of this sensual plot.
arriving back at our starting point, we fell weary and ravendous into the victoria plaza cafe, and gorged ourselves on freshly made sandwiches and refreshing italian limonata.
then we exited through the gift shop. as you do.
travel the world with kew runs until sunday 25th september. for all enquiries please visit the kew royal botanic gardens website.