After scouring the various weekends between our the end of the summer and Christmas, ridiculously there were only seemed to be 1 sensible weekend that my husband and I could set aside to finally visit Kew Gardens. September came and went in a busy flurry, and so did its beautiful weather…
The week before we were due to go, the unseasonably sunny spell had subsided in torrential downpour. On our horribly early train to London, Reading passed by the window in a streaky, steely-grey blur. We braced ourselves for a soggy day out.
But then this happened.
By the time we arrived at Kew Bridge the rain had vanished, leaving blinding wet tarmac and a cool, fresh morning in its wake. When the weather strikes right, Autumn is one of my favourite times of year – the light is so crisp and clear. The turning leaves against the sky look like they were created solely to make eachothers colours pop.
The gardens are huge. On arriving we planned a vague route but along the way it became clear that the garden would decide for us; each new turn pulled us off in another direction. We even made friends with the resident peacock…
The Palace itself isn’t open at this time of year, but it was lovely to browse the formal garden of medicinal plants and herbs. Each is labelled with a small history of its uses, which are fascinating.
The huge tropical Palmhouse, with the light streaming through its steaming interior is quite awe inspiring. The mature plants have grown up into an indoor jungle reaching towards the beautiful crystal panes of curved glass in the roof.
Its construction was quite a feat of engineering for its time, with curved glass being incredibly rare and difficult to produce. It’s architecture is reminiscent of a past age, and really catapults you back to the Victorian grandeur.
The elegant spiral staircase takes you to the upper balcony, which on viewing from the ground floor was surprisingly deserted. On reaching the top, it is immediately apparent why…the heat and humidity spirals up with you. We spent a few minutes admiring the incredible roof and the view below before descending to the now comparatively cool lower level!
We saved the anticipated climb into the Treetop Walkway until later in the day. Even on approach the structure is impressive; the elegantly weathered metal uprights compliment the surrounding trees. The sun was sinking in the sky when we reached the top, and the views out over the surrounding gardens in the evening haze of the city are breathtaking. There is a brilliant view of the Temperate House, which is closed until 2018 for refurbishment. (In my mind, any excuse to come back is now a valid one).
The last stop on our tour of the groups before the park closed was the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. Not having read a lot about the gardens prior to our visit so as not to spoil any surprises, this was a wonderful bonus for me. I could have spent hours browsing the incredible drawings in the collection, with my nose millimetres away from their almost unbelievable detail. But knowing that exhibition is permanent and a return visit was a definite, I took pity on my quietly-appreciative-but-not-quite-so-captivated husband and we headed for the pub to rest our legs!