Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Part Two): The Never Ending Story (Post)

And... We're back. Part two of Kew Gardens. It is the never ending post. Like I said, this day was a massive day. I'm kind of feeling the fatigue all over again while I'm writing it.

I've sat here for the last 15 minutes wondering why I didn't just do one small post highlighting my favorite things. It certainly would have made life easier, and I'm sure there are people out there who don't WANT to read two posts about a Botanic Garden in England. Shocking. I know.

Then I decided that I don't really care. This is a place to leave memories, all of them, and hopefully get people interested in visiting these sites (with helpful hints for if/when they go).

Besides picking "favorite things" in this case doesn't make any sense. It's one whole continuous day and leaving bits out would feel choppy, incomplete and very wrong.

So, I will now unapologetically continue. But I will keep it as short and sweet as possible.

When last you left us, we had just finished lunch...

The other view from our bench. 
This is the massive lawn that appears to lead back to the Palm House. It doesn't.
Well, it might, eventually. But we couldn't stick to it long enough.

At this point, finishing the day wasn't as much of a chore as it seemed before food. There was still TONS to do but we were fed and rested (slightly). We had also come to an agreement during lunch that we weren't going to sweat seeing everything this time around. We picked the things that really stood out on the map and agreed that we'd see everything else the next time.

At this point I also gave Matt the camera. This resulted in pictures of me that I will not make you suffer through. I looked as tired as I felt. But it also got some great pictures of a massive lake and it's bridge called Sackler's Crossing. Like everything else on the map, it was significantly larger than anticipated.
Swans! And Baby Swans! 
As I'm captioning these, and noticing how the light is changing in the pictures, I'm seeing that it's time for another tip for traveling to Kew: wear as many layers as feasibly possible. The weather in England is notoriously finicky. I mean honestly people. So yes, we brought an umbrella (tucked in my purse) but we also wore layers. I would say, should you be visiting in summer, wear comfortable jeans and shoes. Wear shorts and you'll find out what it feels like to burn your thighs and then freeze them. I'm imagining it's not pleasant. That's pretty standard.

On top, instead of just your standard summer t-shirt/tank top you will also want AT LEAST a sweater. I say this because we both brought sweaters but Matt's was thicker than mine and I ended up being very jealous (but also got a really excuse to have him put his arm around me). One second we were sweating  and pulling our sweaters off in the most non-erotic striptease ever and then next we were hudled together fumbling to button buttons and fit heads through collars (and occasionally the accidental arm hole). You have been warned.
Ever so subtle light change... welcome to the north pole
I have to put a small disclaimer here: I don't remember when these next two pictures happened. I know that they happened after lunch, because Matt had the camera. However, when I checked the map... the Redwoods are nowhere near the lake. Legit. So here they are, mostly out of context but I really like Redwoods. So like them.
I can't remember what I was talking about but I'm sure it was brilliant. 
Redwoods are just so damn majestic
Sackler's Crossing itself is a really lovely bridge and it's perfect for people to take pictures on. There are going to be a lot of people taking pictures. And of course we had to join in.
At this point, I was tired of trying to look pretty and looking pretty awkward instead so...
 I hammed it up.
Matt and I normally forget to take pictures together unless it's our "official place picture". So, when I remember I normally jump on the opportunity. This time, given the state I was in, I tried to avoid it. Matt wasn't having it. Of course he still looked great...
I was painfully aware that I was ruining pictures with my face.
I fixed it.
After a little argument over the merrits of actually showing your face in a picture, he got fed up and took pictures of other creatures more willing to pose.

Matt is very proud of his duck pictures. So here are his duck pictures.
On the other side of the lake there's the bamboo grove (okay the other side and down a bit but still). It's very hard to keep bamboo alive. I know from my own fathers foray and one of my neighbors tales of frantically deicing their bamboo during snowstorms. I would like to point out that I live in Maryland. So, kudos to you dear bamboo caretakers at Kew because those suckers are thriving and you're in ENGLAND.
I was trying to be artsy. Did I do it?
Within the bamboo grove they have a Minka. My apologies for the lack of pictures but we were tired and they weren't any good. Anyway, a Minka is a traditional Japanese home used for all of the non-samuri castes. They are mostly used by farmers and they are considered national historical landmarks. Kew's Minka was brought there for educational purposes for the bamboo garden.

After the Minka, there was still so much left to see but the day had already flown by. We picked our course back to the front of the Gardens and really just kind of plowed through the rest of the day.

First we found magnolias, which I didn't know grew outside the U.S.A...
Magnolias. My second favorite flower.
I was basically astounded when I found them in England.
Then we FINALLY found Kew Palace. Originally the home of a Flemish merchant (apparently) it's most famous for being the place George III was sent during his bouts of "madness". Going through is also the only way to see the Queen's Gardens. However, it's an extra £5 and we couldn't really be bothered. I do want to start there next time though. 

Also, it's only open until September 30th.

Royal Palace at Kew. Our legs would have fallen off had we gotten any closer.
Right next door to the Palace you'll find the Orangey (a lovely old glass house with a cafe) and several different play experiences for children. Matt's leg needed a break so we sat down in front of the Orangey. Actually we sat on this...
After searching all day we found it!!!
We watched the kiddies play for a while and decided we were exceedingly grateful for birth control. SO. GRATEFUL.

Right next to the Orangey you'll find a pretty garden with a marker. This is where the original Kew ended. In others words someone was insane and added on all the other miles you have to walk. Sadist.
This plaque marks the end of the original Kew Gardens.
Even though it's a lot, you should try to swing by the Secluded Garden. It's beautiful and filled with poetry, roses and soothing water features (but like, actually, it's cool).

Sweet is the rose, but grows upon a brere; 
Sweet is the Junipere, but sharp his bough; 
Sweet is the Eglantine, but pricketh nere; 
Sweet is the Firblood, but his branches rough; 
Sweet the Cypresse, but his rynd is tough.

by Edmund Spenser
There was no one else there. It was the perfect place to just chill.
Finally we came to the last of the big glass houses. The Princess of Wales Conservatory. The conservatory has ten separate climate zones and the ultimate: carnivorous plants.
The oh so very modern Princess of Wales Conservatory
If you stare at them long enough, you can see some of them moving ever so slightly.
My lilies again!
It really has everything from lilies to african trees to the most amazing and huge orchids you'll ever see outside of their native central america.

After a quick run through the Princess of Wales Conservatory I convinced Matt to let me see the water garden. It was, unfortunately, rather barren because it's being cleaned since the weather is bad. But it did have one perfect lily:
And we took a quick peak at the Alpine House, the newest glasshouse filled with plants the need cool, dry conditions to grow and thrive. 

Then, after it seemed we would make it home if we walked any farther, we found the beautiful Palm House again. At that point people were EVERYWHERE and it was certainly time to call it quits. But not before we got our pictures, duh.

We played tourist for a moment...

   He likes my face so I guess I'll smile if he asks me.

Then it was time to head home. I know I've said a lot how tired we were after our day out at Kew. And we totally were. But let me tell you, it was all worth it. I love Kew Gardens and our day there was pretty close to perfect. I know it will be a favorite place of ours to return to and maybe, one day far away, our kids will like it too.

For any type of traveller, Kew is perfect.


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