I spent my last few weeks in London checking out some of the places I'd always wanted to see but hadn't. I knew it wasn't possible to tick all the boxes but there were a few spots I'd had on my list for a while. On a sunny Saturday I headed to Richmond to explore the 300 acres that is the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Just over 250 years old, Kew Gardens is a paradise for green thumbs and novices alike. I can't believe I lived in London nearly three years and hadn't visited before!
The most scenic route there is to walk from Richmond station. I recently finished reading Virginia Woolf's biography by her nephew Quentin Bell, and (as I've become really into her and her writings) was excited to see Richmond as she spent so much time there. I couldn't go to Richmond without stopping by her house in Paradise Road and then headed to the Green before wandering along the Thames Path to the Gardens. If only I could get inside!
The walk to Kew is filled with utopian views, lush landscapes and beautiful bridges. And lots of benches for packed lunches and lemonades.
Once at the Garden gates we picked up a map which advised allowing 4-5 hours to explore everything. I think it will take me two or three trips to see everything though! A future trip is in the works to check out Kew Palace, the Kew library and archives and the Economic Botany Collection. I didn't even find out about the Marianne North Gallery until the next day, but it sounds like it's worth a dedicated visit to see more than 800 botanical drawings hung floor-to-ceiling in what looks like the dreamiest space in all of Kew.
A real highlight were the glass houses: the Palm House, which was in 1844-48 the first large-scale structural use of wrought iron, and the Temperate house, the world's largest surviving Victorian glasshouse. The cherry on top is the aquarium underneath the Palm House.
Another highlight was the 59-foot-high Treetop Walk. It was funn to be up so high but at moments I felt everything wobble under my feet, eek! It's worth the climb though.I had such a magical day at Kew, I'm sure to go back there when I'm next in London. I hear Winter there is just lovely! *p.s. thank you very much for all the nice comments on my last few posts. When I am more settled (wherever that my be!) I hope to take a bit more time for this wee blog.