The Beauty of Kew Gardens

NatureFirst time visit to Kew Gardens and ‘The Hive’

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The Palm House 1848

On Sunday, I visited Kew Gardens for the first time, having heard many good stories about it and seeking a bit of ‘real’ (botanical gardens aren’t quite wild, but anyway) nature in my life. I wasn’t prepared for the scale of this place (121 hectares) but managed to get a good first impression and will happily visit a couple more times.

Kew is fantastic, engaging and beautiful- it has the world’s largest collection of living plants both out in the open and in wonderfully curated (and very hot) greenhouses. I am now finding out that the gardens are a UNESCO world heritage site and am not surprised- they are a real gem, and a gateway to exploring the incredible plant life of our planet.

In addition to the standard permanent sites, I had the opportunity to see ‘The Hive’ live. This aluminium structure, based on the design of a bee hive, was first the centrepiece of the UK pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015, and now sits beautifully on a hill at Kew. It is certainly impressive, as the lights and sounds mimic the energy of a real hive at the garden, although it may have been visually more interesting with a darker sky. It is part of a new focus on bee protection, cultivation and raising awareness of how dependent we are on bees for pollination of much our food crop. It certainly is intriguing and I can see how it would spark an interest in this critical environmental topic.

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The Hive
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The Hive, looking down

Unfortunately, the Temperate House (the world’s largest surviving Victorian glass structure) is closed for restoration until 2018, but if you need a big breath of fresh air, a feast for your eyes and some great plant trivia do visit! (Note: bring your own food and picnic out as everything is very pricy, and arrive to the free tours at least 2o minutes early)

 

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