NatureFirst time visit to Kew Gardens and ‘The Hive’
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.
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)