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.
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!)
And then, as time was ticking on, a stomp the not trivial distance to the Temperate House, which was looking absolutely stunning.
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.
It really was the most perfect start to a birthday ever, thanks Kew.