It certainly pays to make an early start, especially on such a bright and beautiful morning – and even more so when school holidays are upon us and Kew Gardens becomes a beautiful flower-filled playground and a great spot for a family picnic.
For someone as bah-humbug as I about having unpopulated pictures – flowers not people – it was a near-run past the Palm House and through the still-slumbering Rose Garden to the Cherry Orchard that runs from just behind the holly hedge down towards the Mediterranean landscape.
Forgive me this time for not giving any plant names to these beautiful trees – I have catalogued them extensively in previous years and these pages are an encyclopedia of all of the flowering Prunus in this area – photographing the earliest to the latest white, blush and deepest pink blossoms. It’s easy to find these by using the search function in the left-hand menu bar. This time, I was simply enjoying the moment, the peace and quiet and the extravagance of the show. My own private Hanami moment. It didn’t last long before the buggy-army came along however – Kew have put on a Moomin trail for the youngsters and I am so glad the Tove Jansson characters have an enduring appeal – they were some of my favourite stories as a child and her biography ‘Life. Art. Words’ is a must-read.
My wanderings took me from the Cherry Orchard down to the Mediterranean Landscape and the Judas Tree, Cercis siliquastrum, is just getting going – bright purple-jewel-buds about to burst but still an amazing sight, especially against the yellow gorse (is it a gorse? I’ve never found a label).
A perfect day to wander through this landscape – I could almost hear the Cicadas!
Another show-stopping moment or three immediately behind this area – a double row of flowering cherries underplanted with tulips in the green, green grass. I think the trees are all Prunus Asano and in the mid-morning sun, they were bright candy-floss pink while the tulips were perfectly placed red and white highlights in the long grass. Once again I was fortunate to have the vista to myself as I walked all around the enclosure. The tented Temperate House is still under renovation (due to open next Spring, 2018).
From here, fellow-wanderer, the Treetop Walkway, 18m above the woodland floor and almost entirely to myself. Lucky fellow.
And from here, carrying on down the Holly Walk (again extensively photographed in previous visits, in flower and berry) I made a bee-line for the Japanese Landscape and the Chokushi-Mon. With box topiary, Azaleas in boldest magenta and both white and pink Cherry blossom, and cool ferns unfolding amongst the Fatsia, Carex, Mondo grass and Japanese Spurge, a trickle of water, pebble paths and gravel, this is a sensory delight.
Are you still with me? Not out of breath? There’s a little more to see and I don’t think I’ve ever been in this area with the blossom quite so spectacular – wild apple and pear in a stunning display. I will include the plant labels here to help us out. Quite, quite amazing – green grass, freshly-cut – studded with these magnificent trees – white blossom (mostly) against a bright blue sky. Green, white and blue. Fragrance too of course but you’ll have to take my word for that. The walk looped back towards the Temperate House and the Treetop Walkway by more Cherry trees in full spate.
Nearing the end of the tour now and a disparate collection of shrubs and trees – Eleagnus multiflora humming with bees and drenched in fragrance – a real wafter, you could smell it long before I could identify the source. Berberis in oranges and yellows (and a lot of Camellias that I didn’t capture this time – once again I’ve been down this long avenue with my lens in previous years) and back to the Victoria Gate (jam-packed with people now, about midday, and given the weather, no surprise at all). A superb display of tulips at the entrance here – fireworks indeed to end my tour (and so much more that I didn’t get to see, but that’s for another day).
And finally, just a thought for the window cleaners working on the Palm House yesterday, in the sun, all day …