Tag Archives: The Hive

Kew Gardens – Birthday treat #2


My actual birthday was a Monday, so, having visited Petersham Nurseries the day before, I was back at work.  However, in search of a flowery treat on the day itself, I availed myself of a ‘Friends of Kew’ perk – being eligible to visit from 8am (ahead of the normal opening time of 10am).

I must have visited Kew Gardens hundreds of times having lived in the area for over 25 years, but of course visits have been much rarer since we moved to the Isle of Wight ten years ago.  This time I was particularly interested to see two things

1. how the ‘Great Broad Walk borders’ had filled out since a previous visit in 2016  and

2. to see the recently reopened Temperate House, which has been closed since 2013 undergoing significant restoration.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Not only was I blessed with the most glorious morning, but Kew was looking as beautiful as I think I’ve ever seen it, and there was an added joy in having it largely to ourselves.

We entered through the main, Victoria Gate, and walked first around the back of the Palm House through the rose garden.  Of course it was the perfect time of year for this as shown above.

From here we headed to the Great Broad Walk borders.  As the sign tells us, these borders are 320m long which trumps the fabulous double borders at Hilliers at ‘just’ 250m!


Just before the flaaars, see below the signage Kew has put in place to communicate the planting.  Whilst I completely applaud and appreciate the intention, personally I don’t find these the easiest to read – and I know what most of the plants look like!  I particularly don’t like the rather distorted photos for some of the blooms, but that’s a tiny niggle for what was an absolutely stellar display.IMG_4049





Whilst the planting was fabulous, I was also blown away by Kew’s amazing trees which make such a superb backdrop.  Obviously these have been there for decades, but it’s interesting that I seem to notice trees, on all garden visits, more than I used to.  Perhaps it’s an age thing!








From the long borders we walked back past the Princess of Wales conservatory to visit the spot where my mother’s ashes are scattered (officially, in case you were wondering!)IMG_4066


And then, as time was ticking on, a stomp the not trivial distance to the Temperate House, which was looking absolutely stunning.IMG_4070

It took a little while to gain access as it was largely still locked, but a walk around the back, past the turfing activities (!) and we were in.IMG_4071








It really was the most perfect start to a birthday ever, thanks Kew.



Kew gardens – what a buzz!


To Kew Gardens for my first visit in a while to see the Hive installation by Wolfgang Buttress.  The Hive was commissioned by the UK Government for the Milan 2015 Expo and moved to Kew earlier in the summer.  It has been designed to highlight the importance of pollination in the food chain and poses the question, “how can we protect our pollinators in order to feed our growing population?”

I was accompanied my son (who studied Art A level and is currently studying at UCA) and is my usual exhibition buddy, and we both loved it.  As you can see from the people in the photo above, it is huge in scale (over 17 metres tall).   You can walk inside it and look out


and up.IMG_0554

The idea is to give an insight into a real bee colony and within the Hive are around 1,000 LED light which have been connected to one of the real hives at Kew and the lights turn on and off according to the vibrations of the real bees.  As well as the lights, there was also music, a “symphony of orchestral sounds performed in the key of C – the same that bees buzz in”.   I wasn’t so convinced about the music!IMG_0552

The Hive has been sited atop a beautiful wild flower hillock


and from here I had an elevated view of a section of the new herbaceous borders, known as the ‘Great Broad Walk borders’.

Whilst these are apparently the longest in the world at 320 metres, I’m afraid they didn’t blow me away like the fabulous borders at Hilliers I wrote about here.  Part of the problem is that for much of the length the beds are not that deep. The design does have a number of ‘bulges’ where the beds broaden, a bit like beads on a sparse necklace, which are more impressive.

The actual planting design features repeating ribbons of the same plant, rather like the Oudolf borders at Wisley, and where this worked (which it definitely did in many places) it looked very effective, but somehow even then it didn’t look like a normal herbaceous border’s bold domes of plants.

The main problem however, was that it hadn’t really filled out, which is not unreasonable bearing in mind it’s in its first year and I did visit a couple of weeks ago which is pretty early for a herbaceous border.

I’ve recently discovered that as a ‘Friend’ I can visit from 8am in the morning, so, bearing in mind I live in Richmond during the week, perhaps I’ll treat myself to a return visit one morning before work to see its development.  It’s certainly a vast improvement from what was there previously, so well done Kew.IMG_0560