Into the Palm House first, on a rather dull morning (I missed both brilliantly bright days earlier this week, one at Petersham Nurseries, the other being a Good Boy and doing some housework, washing and much-needed shopping). But hey, it’s still looking grand and my kitchen floor is shiny shiny clean.
The Palm House was beautifully warm and dripping with moisture and the two robins I saw provided a very beautiful bird song duet.
Chill and still a little iced over, the Lake was an almost perfect mirror.
Perfectly mown, the terrace and Rose Garden left and right – and the Pagoda (below) through another long-sighted avenue.
Grass clippings and the most enormous palm frond in this larger-than-your-usual-skip …
No flowers of course (despite our curiously mild autumn) in the rose garden, but some beautiful displays of hips – Rosa Bonica ’82 (above and below) putting on a fine show
Rosa x hibernica, above, looking a little less fine – but roses with hips are always worth seeking out.
Rosa californica is more generous with the display (below)
Rosa californica bright, scarlet plump hips, still (above and below)
Rosa Penelope, a Hybrid Musk bred by the Rev. Pemberton and dating to 1924, a fine large shrub with a good show of hips (below)
The Garland, a rambler rose treated as a free-standing specimen, with long arching branches. Once-flowering, as so many are, the number of hips will give an idea of the density of flower in late June – and perfumed too. Above and below
I didn’t venture into the Wild Rose garden this time, but hips there will be a plenty on many of the extensive collection. I moved on, heading towards the Pagoda (through the Rhododendron Dell – all of the earlier flowers have been blasted by the frosts and chill of the last couple of days) before winding back past the Mediterranean Landscape and on to the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Davies Alpine House.
Pinus wallichiana – the Bhutan Pine (above and below) #barkwatch
and Platanus Augustine Henry (below) #barkwatch
Betula platyphylla var szechuanica (below) #barkwatch
The Crimean Pine, Pinus nigra subsp pallasiana (below) #barkwatch
Pinus bungeana, the Lacebark Pine (below) #barkwatch
Now adjacent to the Bluebell woods, this oversized table and chairs originally featured in the Incredible Edible festival in 2013 and was placed outside the Palm House, with the rose garden beyond. Would love to host a picnic to fill the – how many – seats ..
Pinus pinaster, the Maritime Pine, with deep, moss-filled fissures (above and below) #barkwatch
Posh wildlife, here
Ginkgo biloba encrusted with lichens … while Acer griseum (below) is burished, almost polished
Photinia davidiana (above) and Potentilla davurica (below) looking rather less alive …
Restoration continues on the Temperate House ..
The Holly Walk is a marvel – I’ve catalogued it quite fully over the past few months – this Ilex x altaclarensis Hendersonii is a sight still, loaded down with scarlet berries ..
The treetop walkway, Xstrata, is more clearly visible in these bare-tree times. Its own supports can be mistaken for tree trunks, at first, and second, glance … Which leads me back past King William’s Temple – the Echiums have been boxed up and protected against the cold. The other side of this mound is home to all of the Witch Hazels I’ve recently photographed for this blog.
and once again passing the Henry Moore, Mother and Child 1975/76
Castanea Sativa, the Sweet Chestnut – and a mighty specimen this is – #barkwatch
Which leads me, beneath the wooded slopes and Temple of Aeolus, to the Princess of Wales Conservatory – preparations for the Orchid Festival well under way (6th February to 6th March). The arid zones first …
Crassula portulacea (above) and Crassula ovata (below) in the desert zones of the Princess of Wales Conservatory
While we move into warmer climes, preparations for the annual Orchid extravaganza are well under way. Curtains up on the 6th February and the show lasts for a month.
Towers upon towers of Phalaenopsis – and this is just the start … if you need any excuse to visit, just have a look at the Orchid Festival in recent years – links to my photographs below-
Now I know I know the name of this… wait a bit, it’ll come to me …
Hyophorbe vershaffheltii – the Spindle Palm – not quite #barkwatch, but what can you do?
The tropical fern section is no less extravagant, with this unfurling prehistoric Marratia –
You leave at the east end of the Glasshouse in a drier climate, with Grevillea, Wattle (Acacia) and this Magenta Lilly Pilly, Syzygium paniculata Newport – with edible, tart and fragrant cherry-like fruit. Just love the name Lilly Pilly …
Acacia retinodes (Wirilda) and above that, an unnamed Grevillea – gorgeous though it is.
Which brings up right out to the Davies Alpine House – side by side with the Princess of Wales Conservatory, the Grass Beds and at the head of the Rock Garden
The specimens are presented in a naturalistic way, among large boulders and in scree/gravel beds. Some of the best plants – or to my ignorant eye, some of the most colourful – are down almost at floor level which leads me mostly to lie down to get a good shot. Other visitors have had to step over me on occasion.
Lapeirousia oreogena, tiny violet stars with black and cream marking and sword-like leaves, native of the Cape and Fynbos.
Iris aucheri Olof – twice ..
Iris reticulata Gordon (above)
Tecophiliaea cyanocrocus (above) – read more at http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/plants-fungi/tecophilaea-cyanocrocus-chilean-blue-crocus
Iris Katharine Hodgkin – a pristine specimen which is rare – planted in the borders, they are so often mud-splashed (being so short) that their beauty is diminished considerably.
Side on, the Princess of Wales Conservatory, from the Rock Garden
Mulch Mulch Mulch – a significant amount of work and a huge, invaluable investment in these gardens – and yours too. Obviously they have access to almost limitless home-brewed compost – but if you don’t have a compost heap, or enough, it can be bought in, a ton or two at a time, for not much money – £70/ton perhaps. I mulched the borders in my care heavily in the autumn and will do so again next October/November – but Spring is a good time too (I have many seeded and self-sown seedlings to come through and mulching now would overwhelm them). How good do these beds look with their deep dark duvet?!
Cornus mas getting its groove on … The Cornelian Cherry (and there’s a variegated form I’ll be looking out for).
Dogwoods frame the lakeside edge and (were it sunny) would be a blaze of oranges, gold, red …
Prunus subhirtella Pendula Rubra #barkwatch
Which brings us back to the Palm House …
And so ends this tour of Kew Gardens – just a couple of hours but a lot to take in. I was being taken out to lunch at The Glasshouse, Kew and had to hurry to get there on time –
My choices –
- salt baked chervil root with candied celeriac, grapes and walnuts
- Cornish skate with white crab, Scottish sea kale, crushed potatoes and confit lemon
- Lemon mousse with pink grapefruit sorbet, chamomile and pistachio
There you are, FIVE glasshouses – the Palm House, Temperate House (well I did pass by though it is undergoing restoration), Princess of Wales Conservatory, Davies Alpine House – and The Glasshouse restaurant …
Spoil you I do!