Rolling back the years, almost exactly four years ago in 2016, to an early morning wander through Kew Gardens. As I was working that Sunday I really must have put on some speed to cover so much from the early 8am opening, heading out by 9.30am to head back down the river to Richmond and Petersham on my bike.
I was glad I took the time then and am doubly pleased now that I can look through these galleries and drink in the sights and rekindle the scents and senses. The season seems to have been late – compared to now – lots of cherry blossom still out that we haven’t seen for several weeks – but that is just the joy. No year is the same.
Time-travelling back to 2016 then …
Kew Gardens once again opens its gates at 8am for Friends of Kew, right through the Summer. I took advantage of this early opening on Sunday before heading over to Petersham Nurseries and really appreciated the cool calm and quiet – there were other folk about but few and far between (it’s a big place) and I had what I always want in a garden – huge vistas all to myself (I knew the rest of my day would be hugely social, so I’m not really a misanthrope).
I had of course an agenda – the Mediterranean Landscape as I hoped the Cercis siliquastrum would be in full flower (it was); the Cherry Avenue where much would have gone over but still much in full Hanami-mode; Azaleas and Rhododendrons (bright, fragrant); the Camassia Walk between the Rhododendron Dell and the River (fresh, blue) the Wisteria Pergola (in flower still) and the Hive under construction (huge); the Rock Garden and Woodland Garden and out again in an hour and a half.
Easy to park, a bright blue morning promising heat but not quite there at this time of the morning; a few folk; plenty to see and plenty more left to explore for my next early morning foray (after a week of rain and still reasonable temperatures, there should be even more to see next Sunday morning I hope – the Bluebell woods being one).
Plenty of life yet in these ornamental Cherries – time being short, I didn’t catalogue each tree as I went by – these pages have several previous posts which are quite exhaustive on the subject of cherries, cataloguing this grove quite extensively.
The Mediterranean Landscape was perfect match of content and weather, this past week at least and the Judas Tree was indeed in flower. The meadow between the Cherries and this landscape was studded, lightly, with Tulips (I had to check they were real) –
This Cistus in full flower (no name tag) appealed. The huge, sprawling Cercis siliqustrum was a bright fresh lilac-purple, with flowers tightly hugging the bare stems, new leaves just tiny shiny hearts in a translucent bronze.
Heading east now towards the Rhododendron Dell but passing the Azalea Garden and the first time I’ve seen it in flower, though it is early on in the display. A beautiful spicy fragrance right across this circular plot. The giant specimen of Liriodendron tulipifera was just coming into leaf.
This took us down and through the sunken path in the Rhododendron Dell
Cornus controversa Variegata in the Dell – and this Acer davidii (below)
And at the top of this (past the Bamboo Grove), a new (?) planting of miniatures in a blaze of colour –
Which leads us neatly to the start of the Camassia walk – a broad grassy path between swathes of tall Camassias, beneath the tall canopy of the trees above. A glorious and peaceful walk – just remember to look back to capture the view both ways.
The Golden Oak makes a fine statement with the bluebells below and hint of the Camassias just passed. The Ulmus Dodoens (below) was in full (curious) flower …
Magnolia Elizabeth (below)
And as we head towards the Davies Alpine House (crossing the broad avenue that is the new double herbaceous border) this combination of crab apple and cherry is astonishingly beautiful – and huge! Prunus avium Pleno and Malus Laxton’s Red
Which leads is neatly to the construction of The Hive (you may recall I photographed the earthworks a few weeks ago – my how it has grown….)
A little down the path, this beautiful and grand old dame – Wisteria sinensis over 200 year old ….
Malus baccata Columnaris – with very large, simple, white flowers
Just outside of the Davies Alpine House (the Clamshell above), a little pot of Heuchera cylindrica flowering heartily with cream coral-bells
Time was beginning to get tight for the visit, if I was to get out in time to get to work! A speeded up gallery therefore through the Alpine House, down along the Rock Garden and into the woodland glades beneath the Temple of Aeolus …
Though I did stop and wonder at this Paeonia suffruticosa –
before continuing on …
and a stretch –
Before calling it a day at Kew at 9.30 and heading over to Petersham Nurseries …
If you are able to get to Kew (and are a Friend – it is open early only to members), please I entreat you, do – from 8am ’til the usual opening hour at 10am, it is like this is your own private landscape, peaceful before the bustle of the day, with room to breathe, relax and explore. As you can see, there’s a lot that can be done in 90 minutes!