Sunday, 9 February 2020

Kew Gardens

Wednesday 24 July.

Our wonderful drought breaking rains over the past week has kept me indoors. I took the opportunity to catch up with the final blog posts of our overseas holiday in 
June /July of last year. There will be 4. No 3.
[250mm has fallen] 

My friend Freda is a volunteer at Kew Gardens. Not only were we able to have free entry, but we were able to enter an hour earlier than the public. On this again, very hot day, we were very grateful.
Parking can be a problem but we managed to find a spot about a kilometre from the entrance.

Our walk to the entrance gates was across this quintessential English Cricket ground. Alas, not the usual immaculate green field one would expect.

The Botanist Pub - appropriately named, given the vicinity to Kew Gardens.

I'm sure St Anne's homemade cream teas would sell well on an afternoon of Sunday cricket.

Entering at 9am I was immediately transported to a shady, green, leafy world. 1400 trees with 2000 different species, throughout Kew's 330 acres. Impossible to even begin to appreciate its wonder and beauty in a day.  Our intent today was to find the astonishing, blown glass exhibits of Dale Chihuly, a Seattle based glass pioneer.  His work is definitely worth googling.

I love our Aussie flora, but it is harsh in comparison to the bright, green tones and canopies of European trees. I was rapt to be walking beneath the shade of these trees.

Temple of Bellona and Dale Chilhuly's Sapphire Star.

The Ruined Archway or Folly, was built in 1759 to appear thousand's of years old.

The Great Pagoda was built in 1762 as a gift for Princess Augusta, the founder of the gardens.

The Japanese House

Chihuly's 'Niijina Floats'

So many tree lined paths to choose from.

The Temperate House - 1500 plant species, from 5 continents and 16 islands, interspersed with Chilhuly's magnificent glass pieces, recently [18 months ago] renovated at a cost of 41 million pounds. It was originally constructed in 1859 and is the world's oldest surviving Victorian glasshouse.

Side entrance to the remarkable pavilion.

Cast iron, spiral staircases in each corner, allow one to access the viewing walkways. One is immediately over awed by the size, engineering and landscaping of this spectacular building, all enhanced by Chihuly's pieces.

'Temperate House Persians'

Nature still impresses.

Finally tearing ourselves away, we were greeted by two more spectacular Chilhuly pieces at the main entrance.

We turned left to Cherry Walk.
Here we were arrested by the dramatic impact of Chilhuly's "Catstails and Copper Birch Reeds".

King William's Temple, 1837 and its view over dazzling, purple glass exhibits.

Planted about 1695, this 'Sweet Chestnut' tree is the oldest in the garden and would have been planted before the gardens were established.

The ponds weren't fairing very well with the hot dry conditions.

Syon House, London residence of the Duke of Northumberland, grandly overlooks the Thames River and Kew Garden.

Alice in Wonderland to entertain children and the spectacular 'Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower" made of 1882 separate elements.

Nature wasn't to be outdone by these exhibits.

Just when we didn't think the exhibits could wow us any more, we entered the Water Lily House and were overwhelmed by the exquisite beauty of Chilhuly's 'Ethereal White Persian Pond'.


Colourful gardens, 'Glass Tree' or 'Summer Sun' and green lawns were set in front of the Palm House, with its sweeping view across the lake to 'The Botanicals'. Alas we didn't have time to even enjoy a coffeee, in this beautiful building.

Entrance to the Great Board Walk Borders and its stunning, summer, cottage garden displays.

I never wanted to leave, but Freda had a very important engagement with the Lady Mayoress of the City of London, at Mansion House at 3pm. Freda was to receive her badges of office as a newly graduated Guide of the City of London. It was a closed ceremony, so I spent a very pleasant hour roaming the streets in the vicinity of Mansion House. At 4pm, I joined Freda and her fellow Graduates at The Ned Hotel for a celebratory glass of bubbles.

At 6pm after Evensong at St Paul's Cathedral, conducted by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, [wife of a graduate] our group strolled passed St Paul's to the Old Deanery, where we had been invited to partake of light refreshments.

What an incredibly, sensational, marvellous day and it wasn't quite over. 

Mid evening, we strolled slowly to Black Friar's Tube Station for the journey back to Ealing. We couldn't resist visiting the historic Black Friars Pub.

Oh London, I don't want to leave tomorrow!

I would love to read your comment.


  1. Wow! A huge post that has kept me busy for an hour! Delightful!

    1. So glad you had the time to enjoy the post Bill. It was truly delightful.

  2. I am sure that your visit to Kew Garden was memorable, Helen. It would have been for me.

    1. David, even without the glass sculptures it would have been a very special visit.

  3. What a fabulous post, Helen!!
    I visited Kew Gardens in 2018 on a greyish day and had only some hours for the visit. ( Your sunny photos look so cheerful!
    Plus you had also other interesting program there. :)

    Nature does impress.

    1. Sara, I hope you get to return on a sunny day, as I know your images would be stunning and very creative.

  4. What a great tour, Helen! Chihuly sculptures were on display at Denver Botanic gardens many years ago, so I was happy to revisit them in your photos. They are so amazing in a flower-filled setting. I love that ancient chestnut tree.

    1. Barb, Chihuly's scuptures are amazing and were so brilliantly postioned. I think the old chestnut tree is about 300 years old.

  5. Those Chihuly pieces are amazing!

    1. Perhaps you can visit Seattle to see more.

  6. I don't know how those outdoor art sculptures survive. I don't think they would in Kansas. The ones nestled among the verdant green indoors were breathtaking. Beautiful!

    1. I have to agree about the survival of the sculptures, especially in transit. They were amazing.

  7. Kew Gardens are fabulous! Love the glass sculptures.

    1. Yes, the gardens are fabulous, even in the very dry conditions.

  8. Ha ha when I saw the title I was wondering where Kew Gardens were in Australia. I have been to the Kew Gardens a couple of times and they are a delight. You sure took lots of photos.

  9. Ha, ha. My pseudo name is Snappyfingers and I don't regret any of them.

  10. Well, Kew Gardens is always spectacular, hard to improve on but those sculptures have managed it. They are truly extraordinary. Are they permanent in the grounds or just a temporary exhibition?