Here in London we have been experiencing some freakish winter weather… it has actually been warm! And I’m talking a decent 20°C. So like any Brit worth their weight, I took full advantage of the sunshine. My friend Ania, who I met on Erasmus, was visiting so together we spent a day in the Royal Botanical Gardens, or Kew Gardens in South West London. It was the first time I’d been since I was a child so I was really looking forward to it. Home to the worlds most diverse collection of living plants, the collection is envied internationally by other botanical research and education institutes. Plus, getting out of central London and breathing some FRESH air is always welcome!
THE ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS, KEW
Kew is only 30mins from central London on the overground making it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are four incredible Victorian glasshouses, my favourite being the Palm House which houses exotic rain forest plants. There is also the Temperate House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory which cover 10 of the worlds climates. The Waterlily House is also a spectacle worth seeing, housing giant (and I mean GIANT!) lily pads. This is the house I remember most as a child so the lily pads must have made an impression! Then there are all the outdoor attractions which include a treetop walkway, authentic pagoda and bamboo garden. You can easily spend a whole day at Kew.
Entry is cheaper if you book online. An adult ticket will cost you £16.50, local residents pay slightly less and there are concession and student prices for £8.00. Kew is the perfect place to take a picnic however if you prefer there are a few cafes/restaurants in the gardens for you to choose from which serve a variety of mainly healthy food. Ania and I decided to eat at a really lovely, upmarket-ish pub by Kew station called The Tap on the Line because we wanted somewhere with a slightly oldy worldly feel.
THE PALM HOUSE
As I mentioned, the Palm House is my favourite greenhouse in Kew Gardens. It is humid and sweaty and usually pretty busy but we were lucky to find it relatively empty. The structure of the greenhouse is impressive in itself considering it was built in 1844. The curved roof is a beautiful contrast to the leafy green jungle plants which you get a perfect view of from the raised walkway. We wandered around slowly, you have to in that heat, taking it all in and feeling a little bit transported to the Amazon rain forest or somewhere similar.
Many of the species in this greenhouse were collected by Victorian explorers and are now endangered or even extinct. We read about some of extinct plants as we walked around and it was a not so subtle reminder of the negative effect humans have had on this planet.
THE TEMPERATE HOUSE
The Temperate house is twice as big as the Palm House and a much nicer temperature! It was also full of blooming flowers which the Palm House lacked, maybe because of the time of year? I want to go back in the summer to see what has changed. But thanks to these flowers the air was filled with a beautiful, subtle sweet smell which I think we both appreciated having come from central London. You can actually get married in the Temperate House too. There are example pictures on the Kew Gardens website which make me drool.
We didn’t visit the Princess of Wales Conservatory on this trip because the queue was super long. This is because of the Orchid: Celebrate the Colours of Colombia show currently running there which does look very impressive. But we had limited time and other things to do (a street art walk in Shoreditch no less!) so had to miss it. However we made sure to take in as much of the rest of Kew Gardens as possible. It was very peaceful, relaxing and the perfect opportunity to catch up with each others busy lives. I can’t wait to go back in the summer to see what has changed.
Have you ever been to Kew Gardens or is it on your list? If you have, what was your favourite part? All information in this post was gathered by me via the Kew Gardens website so it should be pretty accurate. The ticket prices I mentioned are from March 2019, for your reference!