June in the U.K.has been glorious and for most of the time a bit warmer than the Sierra Aracena.It has been a busy time but we managed another trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Often the gardens are just referred to as Kew Gardens or nowadays just Kew. However, the botanical part is the most important and Kew is famous for its historical plant collections from all over the world and for its scientific, herbarium and conservation work.It is also a focus for many courses such as horticulture, botanical studies and art. There are incredible orchid displays in February in the Princess of Wales glasshouse and many other seasonal displays.
And also many famous vintage trees like this Stone Pine.
I grew up near Kew and began visiting with my parents and for a while did a Saturday job there. A job that helped pay for my trip to India, in my younger years, so much to be thankful for! So it was with great delight that I visited with my daughter and we brought my grandaughter Olivia for the first time to see this amazing place.
There are often a lot of activities for youngsters these days and at present there is the Blue Peter Dragon Trail.
It’s often best to have a focus at Kew, as in previous posts, for frequent visits, membership and courses. Although my younger daughter put the cost of entry into perspective; it’s what people will pay for just one round of drinks! So it’s worth it as Kew has to provide so much more towards its research projects nowadays and to upkeep the famous Victorian glasshouses and the pagoda, which will reopen in July.
All life on Earth has depended and will continue to depend on plants. Kew has developed cutting edge knowledge of plants through past knowledge and current research. There’s more value in that than a round of drinks, surely? But it still seems difficult to get young people to visit or become members.
We headed towards the newly opened and renovated Temperate house. It has taken 5 years to complete and is home to over 10,000 plants, and 1.500 different species, many that are very rare and endangered. David Attenborough, the famous naturalist and broadcaster, opened The Temperate House in May this year. His words reflect on the importance of plants and Kew
“ Kew does all sorts of thing that nowhere else does….It’s the most important botanical institute in the world and occupies a very special place in the science of botany….. …..We depend for every breath of air we take, every mouthful of food we eat, upon plants. And plants all over the world are in trouble.” David Attenborough
Kew and The Temperate House create safe places to conserve species and have far reaching global projects to help protect plant diversity. Kew students and scientists study medicinal values that different plants have, plant diseases that affect crops we depend on or like such as coffee and cocoa plants.
The Temperate House has had to be replanted with the very rare plants that had to be removed while restoration took place. 200 rare species were grown from seeds collected by the Millenium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place.( link to previous post) All plantings are now in situ and ready to grow into the dizzy heights of this glasshouse. I remember it being like a tall forest and climbing up the wrought iron staircase to the gallery to be close to the tops of the Temperate plants and trees. It may take a few more years for that but the plants are still stunning and with lots of new information panels and digital links.
The history of the Temperate House is shown in different ways on information panels and the history of common garden plants like the fuchsia. There has also been a lot of important conservation work on islands such as Madagascar and as shown here St Helena.
Olivia had a lot of fun and the vast interior of the Temperate House gives a lovely backdrop.
Many of the newly renovated wooden windows were open as the temperature was pretty temperate hot outside. It seems 15,000 panes of glass were replaced, 5,280 litres of paint and 180 km of scaffolding was required. The floor is 4,880 metres squared and 69,000 individual elements were removed to be cleaned, restored or replaced. The Temperate House at Kew is the largest remaining Victorian glasshouse in the world.
We decided not to go into the Tropical glasshouse, The Palm House as it was far too hot outside! That is best saved for a rainy or wintry visit! The small Lily house is worth a visit though and only open during the summer. At other times there is a lovely collection of water plants in the Princess of Wales glasshouse.
There are also exhibitions celebrating the 10 th anniversary of the Shirley Sherwood Art Gallery for Botanical Art. I did a short course on botanical illustration ( botanical art) which gave me a lot of insight into observing and appreciating different plants but fear I lack the drawing skills needed! So I then turned to writing my novel on biodiversity and there is a visit to Kew for the bumblebee! I hope my words can create pictures.
We weaved our weary way back past the tulip beds from my Spring post. Now all resting. Past the almost familiar chestnut trees, but here tall and unpollarded, and cistus ( cistus albidus) so familiar from our Mediterranean climate, abundant on the finca in May and heads the top of my blog!
For one new visitor sleepy but not wanting to sleep it was certainly a weavy path and full of songs. She loves Brahms Lullaby, it usually does the trick. But we passed a really knobbly mulberry tree so had to add that one in. Here we go round the MULBERRY bush or tree as it is here, on a glorious day in June.
With best wishes to all and as ever I hope to get back to more blogging. This, though, is still going to be a busy year as a house move in the U.K. is also imminent. Will do my best to keep following the faithful!
* All facts are from the Kew Magazine, Special Issue to celebrate the restoration of The Temperate House. And as always Kew is dependent on public support for all this ongoing work and conservation projects. http://www.kew.org