Kew in the Summer

I think by now my love for Kew Gardens is pretty well documented. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I went again recently!

IMG_3684

It was beautifully hot, and absolutely magical. They have a patch of eucalyptus trees which we walked through, and I’ve never smelt anything so wonderful in my life – they don’t smell the way you’d expect, its spicy, dry and wonderful. I didn’t get a photo of them because they just looked like dry leaves but next time you go, look out for them. But I thought this flower was rather lovely too.

IMG_3512

I explored lots of different places this time, and this bridge over a lake was one of my favourite parts. It was so serene, with ducks and dragonflies everywhere. It’s easy to forget as you walk around this idyllic place, that Kew is still in trouble, that below the surface they’re having to cut jobs. Parliament isn’t in session at the moment, and with the recent changes to the cabinet it’s difficult to tell what will happen. But the Early Day Motion MPs were asked to sign did really well, so that means Parliament supports preserving this wonderful place!

IMG_3505

We went up the brilliant Treetop Walkway, an 18 metre high, 200 metre long platform that you walk around, and gives you absolutely stunning views, as well as the rare chance to see trees from canopy level. I’ve recently learned that I’m funny with heights (why this didn’t occur to me before I don’t know, as I’ve had MASSIVE freak outs on both the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, and when climbing an emergent tree in the rainforest). Anyway, this was taken near the end, when I actually managed to slow down from dragging my friend round at the speed of light. It was really cool though, you should definitely try it!

IMG_3485

And of course, no visit to Kew would be complete without a visit to the Palm House. Check out this awesome plant! I don’t know what it is but it looks like a lily?

IMG_3465

Did you know that Kew is a finalist in the Google Impact Challenge Award? They’re developing a device that will allow them to map disease carrying mosquitoes – a device that would be worn as a wristband or downloaded as a phone app! So cool. It’s this kind of innovation that I love about Kew, yes they do lots of quietly sensible research, but at the same time they’re so creative.

IMG_3463

Here’s a wonderful video about Kew’s archives and the development of our understanding of the plant world. I can’t work out how to embed it, but you must watch it because it’s beautiful, and fascinating.

IMG_3466

If you’re in London this summer, make a point of visiting Kew. They have so many incredible things going on at the moment, and the whole place looks great. Both times I’ve been I’ve discovered something new and fascinating, this time I think my favourite was the Marianne North Gallery. North was an artist in the 19th century, who travelled the world painting the most incredibly vivid nature scenes. Most were tropical scenes that will transport you to a warmer place when you look at them, or if you’ve already been, bring back memories of the sights and sounds you experienced. It’s amazing to look at these small colourful paintings in their dark air conditioned gallery and feel as though you’re back in the jungle (Speaking of feeling like you’re back in the jungle…look at those leaves!)

Advertisements

Kew Gardens – my favourite place in London?

Last week I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and I spent most of the day completely enchanted with the stunning plants. It’s a truly wonderful place.

IMG_3056

They’re dedicated to conservation and saving the environment, and have a research facility, where they investigate the relationship between humans and nature, helping us to live a more sustainable life.

IMG_2996

Plus, my friend told me that Kew has the largest collection of plants in the world!

IMG_2999

I had certainly never seen most of them before, and I know my plants. The insect life was wonderful too, its always reassuring to see bees buzzing around.

IMG_2992

I was completely blown away by this area. These are California Poppies, which are in my top ten favourite flowers. They’re so vibrant and beautiful. Everywhere you walk, there are sections like this that showcase different kinds of plant life, whether in glasshouses or outside.

IMG_3025

You can spend an entire day walking around looking at flowers, but they make sure you learn about them too. They have a Summer Festival, which this year is called Plantasia, and is educating people about the way medicine and health is rooted in plants – which I hope will make people think more seriously about the environment.

IMG_3011

My mind was blown the first time I learned how pineapples grow. They’re little shrubs that sit close to the ground – I just find that adorable for some reason. No wonder they’re so spiky.

If you’re looking for something to do this summer, the Royal Botanic Gardens should be at the top of your list, no question. It has got to be the most beautiful place in London, its inspiring, interesting, and it’ll get you out of the London air for a little while too! I (unsurprisingly) spent a long time in the Palm House, which houses all the rainforest plants. I took so many photos I need a separate post for them, but it’ll be worth it! Anyway, visit Kew’s website for details.

A walk in spring rain on Easter Sunday

I’m not religious in the slightest – but here, Easter is relevant. Today I got to walk through an almost deserted central London, take photos at my leisure and enjoy the sound of rain clattering on my umbrella, and cleansing the air.

IMG_2267

Continue reading

East and West

In reality, this post is just an excuse to share two beautiful trees I’ve walked past in London. The magnolia I found in West London, while the cherry tree I pass on my way to the supermarket in East. I’m moving soon, to central London, which will mean that all three places here that I’ve called home will form a nice neat line through the city.

IMG_2093 Continue reading

Columbia Road Flower Market

Last Sunday I went to Columbia Road, like I have done most Sundays since I’ve been here. And I bought flowers, like I have almost every Sunday since I’ve been here (the only time I didn’t was when I went at 12pm and couldn’t get close enough to a stall to even look). This time I got talking to the man I bought my flowers from, and asked him if there was any time of day I could come that wouldn’t be this ridiculously busy.

IMG_2105 Continue reading

Cherry Blossom Grrrl

The house I grew up in had a huge cherry tree outside it. It towered above the rest of the trees on our street, and when it blossomed the garden and road in front of our house would be covered in a thick layer of soft pink snow. Even a child raised by feminists can’t resist that level of pretty, let me tell you.

IMG_2060_2

I used to go out and watch the petals silently drifting down from the sky. It was my favourite time of year and as soon as the tree turned pink I would wait patiently, excited for the arrival of summer and the falling of the blossoms.  It was like being in a wonderland, a surreal experience unique to me. I loved to skip through the fallen petals, kicking them up into pink clouds that would flutter back down around me.

Continue reading