for our “In London” series
For a lovely afternoon in the city, why not visit Kew Gardens? The price might seem steep, but I can say that it is definitely not only worth the money, but the train ride out there. Famous for its collection of plants from around the world, Kew has a lot more to offer than catalogues of botanicals. When you first enter Kew, turn left. You are now headed toward a part of the grounds that is less frequented by visitors than if you turn to the right. You will walk down a tree lined path and on your left you will enter into the small house which stores hundreds of drawing by Marianne North who traveled around the world drawing and studying plants. Wherever you are from, you are sure to find something familiar. I even found a drawing from Lake Tahoe, an hour from my hometown in Sacramento, California.
Continue on the path around the border of the park and you will come to a badger hide. The chances of seeing a live badger are slim to none, but it is cool to see their habitat. The path makes a sharp turn to the right. You will see the famous pagoda on your right and you can cut through to get a closer look. For £3 you can climb it. When we were there, Kew was just finishing up its summer festivities (“Plantasia”) with the Healing Giant, a modern living art installation of sorts describing the uses for medicinal plants from around the world.
Cutting across the park now toward the treetop walk you will pass the rhododendron area and some beautiful ponds where you can watch the swans and also the jumbo jets flying over, since unfortunately, this beautiful place is smack in the middle of the Heathrow flight path. Continue to head toward the direction of Kew palace now, when you can spot many interesting trees and hidden gems along the way. Kew palace and the accompanying kitchens are worth a visit if you’ve never been, but I’ll probably never go back.
Now you are at the main part of Kew where you can go inside of the climate controlled conservatories and view a variety of plants, including an amazing orchid display in the Prince of Wales conservatory.
After this, we got a little lost and found my favorite part of the gardens which is the edible beds. They grow all kinds of veggies and fruits. Bonsai trees are in the back of the gardens and they are very old and amazing. Photo opportunities abound at Kew, but pack a picnic to avoid the overpriced and mediocre cafes.
Bonus: Why not have a pint at the “tap on the Line” pub overlooking the district line on your way back into town? And if you’re craving something natural, there is a killer natural food store back in the little high street of Kew neighborhood.