Thursday, 18 July 2019

Kew - in all her Summer glory!

Hi there everyone 😀

Following last week's taster today I want to share our visit to Kew with you in its full glory ... brace yourselves ... there are lots of photographs, though I promise I have tried to whittle them down. It's one of those posts that is probably better appreciated with a cuppa and a piece of cake when you've got a few minutes to sit down and take it all in.

As you will know from last week's post we opted to head for Kew via public transport, catching the train from Tamworth into Euston and then heading out towards Richmond on the underground. We had no delays and having left Tamworth at 9.07am we emerged from Kew underground station just after 11.00am ...
It's a part of London that neither of us have ever visited before and we knew we had a short walk from the tube station along Lichfield Road to the gardens.

It was just lovely ... a bit of blue sky and a pretty traditional residential street ... we could have been a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre ...
... and in no time at all we found ourselves at the Victoria Gate entrance to Kew ... the royal botanical gardens ...
There was a short queue for tickets as we'd not been able to buy on line ahead as we were using our Gardeners' World 241 voucher, but within about 10 minutes we were in.

Our first stop was the Victoria Gate Cafe where we had a drink and a good look at the map to see how we wanted to approach our visit ...
We were both a bit overwhelmed by the size of the gardens and how much there was to see. Our priority was the Dale Chihuly Reflections on Nature sculpture exhibition, as it are only on display for a limited time, so we planned ourselves a route that would take all of the sculptures in and then we would see how we were doing for time.

Refreshed and raring to go we headed off along the path towards the Great Pagoda and very quickly came across the first of the sculptures ... 'The Sapphire Star'

... It was just stunning ...
Next stop was the Shirley Shorewood Gallery of Botanical Art where there were lots more glass sculptures on display ... they were really beautiful ...

We didn't spend an awful lot of time inside as it was quite busy and we just wanted to get back outside into the sunshine and carry on exploring.

Coming out of the gallery it wasn't long before we found our second outdoor sculpture ... the 'Lime Crystal Tower' ...
In this next photo you can just see The Great Pagoda in the background, which was where we were heading for next ...
The footpath took us along the perimeter of the park adjacent to Kew Road ...
... before we headed off towards the pagoda ...
The pagoda was beautiful ... it was vast and soooooo tall ...
... with each level decorated with fearsome colourful dragons ...


The pagoda was open for visitors, for a small additional charge, but we decided we didn't fancy all those stairs and decided to give it a miss, though I am sure the views from the top would have been worth the effort.

We did have a quick look round the bottom level, where we found some really fascinating automota to have a bit of a play with.

We headed away from the pagoda in search of our next sculpture fix ...
It was a short walk across the grass path to the Japanese Gardens and the next sculpture installation ... the 'Niijima Floats'. We couldn't decide whether they more resembled a giant game of marbles or another far away planetary system ... 



We walked up to the Japanese Gateway, which was gifted to Kew after its inclusion in the Japan-British exhibition of 1910 in London. It is actually a four-fifths scaled down replica of the Karamon Gate of the Nishi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto, which used to be the capital of Japan ...


We left the tranquility of the Japanese Garden ...
... and headed back towards The Temperate House in search of a good spot for lunch ...

We decided to cut through The Temperate House and have lunch at The Pavillion Bar, which we'd passed earlier and thought it would be nice as we could eat outside. Passing through we were hit with our next sculpture ...
I didn't make a note of what this one was called and I have had to do some serious 'Googling' to find it. It's called the 'Chartreuse Hornet Polyvitro Chandelier'. It was absolutely stunning.

We could see that there was lots more to see in The Temperate House but carried on straight through and out the other side ...

It's certainly an impressive building and I didn't realise it until today but it's the World's largest Victorian glasshouse and only re-opened last year following a major five year renovation process. We were really looking forward to exploring more, but for now it was time for lunch ...

Lunch was fine. The setting was lovely, the service was great, the food was ok and, as you'd expect pretty expensive, and it was lovely to just take the weight off our feet and really chill out for a while.

If you are visiting and don't fancy paying Kew prices for refreshments it is worth noting that we did pass a Tesco Express on the way from the Tube so it would have been easy to pick up some sandwiches and drinks to bring in ... there are loads of benches where you could sit and have a picnic lunch.

After lunch we couldn't wait to get back and explore The Temperate House. This time we went in through the front door, which was flanked by two fabulous 'Opal and Amber Towers' ...

It's only when you get up close that you can really appreciate the size and the scale of the sculptures and you have to wonder at the engineering involved in transporting and safely installing them all ...
Inside The Temperate House the first sculpture that absolutely hits you right between the eyes is this ...
I know this isn't the best photo that I took of this sculpture, but it was the first. It ended up being my absolute favourite. It's known as the 'Temperate House Persians' and was created specially for this exact spot and it makes an absolutely stunning centrepiece suspended above the other numerous sculptures that are to be found amongst the flower beds.
This is it a bit closer up ... aren't those flowers absolutely stunning? And the colours? It was just so beautiful.

Eventually we did manage to move our eyes downward and start to look around us. The Temperate House is stuffed full of sculptures to look at. This is 'Green Hornets and Gold Waterdrops' and it's almost easy to mistake it as part of the actual foliage ...

Then we had 'Yellow Herons and Reeds' ...

Moving on just a little there was more to be found nestling in amongst the planting ... 'The Beluga Boat' ...

... and a mass of 'Amphora' ...
We headed up the spiral staircase to see what it all looked like from above. We weren't disappointed  ...

We came down the spiral staircase across on the opposite side and there was still plenty more to be seen ...
We had spent ages in The Temperate House and it was feeling like it was time to move on, but we couldn't leave without a last couple of shots of the 'Persians' ...

We headed out towards Cherry Walk, taking in a few of the more traditional sights that the great glass house had to offer ...
Back outside into the sunshine we were faced with this sight ... 'Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds' ...

It was another stunning display. I have to say though, when searching on line, I did find a photo taken of this display in the spring, with the trees in blossom and plenty of tulips below and it did make me wish that I'd also got to see it then.

It was but a short walk to the Mediterranean Garden where the 'Neodymium Reeds and Turquoise Marlins' fair took our breath away ...

The colours were just so vibrant, almost luminescent and in my very favourite colours too.

Next up was the 'Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower', looking like the most gigantic of red hot pokers ...
One of the things that I really liked about this exhibition was the way that the sculptures were cordoned off ... it was done in such a way that you could see everything but easily get photos without any people in if that was what you were looking for.

I've left the lady in the next one so you can just get a sense of the scale of the tower ...
By now it was red hot and we took advantage of one of the many well placed benches in the shade of the trees to have a bit of a breather before heading through the rose garden at the back of the Palm House ...


The Palm House itself is a bit of an iconic sight, after all it seems to be the thing that you tend to think of when you think of Kew. It's huge and looked beautiful in the afternoon sunshine. We really hoped we would get time to have a good look round inside ...

From here we headed into the Waterlily House for another sight that fair took our breath away ... and I'm not just saying that. 'The Ethereal White Persian Pond' was just stunning ...


We couldn't stay in the Waterlily House for long as it was so hot, absolutely sweltering, we were glad to be back outside in the fresh air. 

There were just two more of the glass sculptures left for us to see and we headed to the front of The Palm House to find 'Summer Sun', passing the Leaf Spirit on our way ...
The Palm House Parterre was resplendent in its summer coat, with a traditional Victorian bedding scheme of red, blue and purple ...

We'd caught a glimpse of the 'Summer Sun' sculpture from across the lake as we'd come into the garden, but up close it was pretty impressive ...
It's really difficult to capture an accurate reflection of the colours on film, but they were all just so vibrant.

The last that we got to see was very simply named 'Paintbrushes' and that is exactly what they looked like ...
So that was it for the sculptures. In the brochure that we'd been given when we'd entered the gardens there is a quote from Dale Chihuly as to how he wants his work to appear ...
"I want my work to appear like it came from nature, so that if someone found it on a beach or in the forest, they might think it belonged there."
I have to say ... I think he has totally achieved this goal. Not one of the sculptures looked out of place or detracted from its natural surroundings in any way at all. In fact, in my own personal view, all absolutely added something really special to all that we saw.

Whilst that was the end of the sculptures we weren't ready to leave just yet and decided that we would take a walk along the Great Broad Walk Borders to The Orangery.

Up until now we hadn't really seen much by the way of flowers but the borders were stunning and there was plenty of colour, with lots still to come ...



About half way down the border we saw The Hive, which were really intrigued by and hoped to have a close look at on our way back.
At The Orangery we stopped to rest our legs and have another cold drink whilst deciding our next plan of action ...
Time was getting on and there was just no way that we were going to get to see everything that we wanted to so we decided that we would carry on to have a look at Kew Palace, make our way back via The Hive, have a selfie with 'Summer Sun' and have a quick look in the Palm House, before having an ice cream and starting to head for home.

Kew Palace is a beautiful red brick building ...
It is open for visitors but we just didn't have time to go inside today, instead heading for Queen's Garden around the back, which was just lovely ...



We were right at the extent of the gardens here, bordering the Thames and we started to make our way back ... passing Elizabeth Gate and The Princess of Wales Conservatory ...
Back at The Hive and we were gutted to find it closed for the day, so we couldn't get to experience what it was all about.

We passed the Japanese pagoda tree, one of the oldest in the gardens ...
... and we made our way back along the Great Broad Walk Borders ...
... to The Palm House, where we had the swiftest of visits, not doing it justice at all ...
Making a quick exit, pleased to get out of the humidity, it was time to tick the last off the list, with our selfie with 'Summer Sun' ...
It was then a short walk past the lake and back to the Victoria Gate ...
... for a final rest break, accompanied by ice cream before starting our journey back home ...

What a day we'd had. It had been fabulous, Kew did not disappoint and I am so glad that we got to see the sculpture exhibition. We were both absolutely shattered and there was still so much we hadn't got to see.

I would like to have seen more of the parkland, the views over The Thames, Queen Charlotte's Cottage, gone across the Sackler Crossing, done the Treetop Walkway, seen the Minka House, looked inside Kew Palace, explored the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the gardens around that area, experienced The Hive and spent more time in The Palm House.

Definitely one for a re-visit where I am sure that next time we will be taking advantage of the Kew Explorer and possibly an overnight stay ... or two 😀

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