The Azaleas Garden of Kew is one of the most varied in all the UK, and is the pride and joy of the gardeners who care for it. The problem is that we arrived a little early in the season and azaleas usually bloom closer to May or June. In addition, there had been a pretty cold winter which is why we were so eager to get out! We could see hybrid breeds that Lionel de Rothschild brought to England in 1922, many varieties of which died from lack of care during the second World War. Some can still be seen however in Exbury Gardens in addition to a collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. They are wide flowering plants in a variety of colors, from red and orange to pink or white, and they last a month. There are more hybrid plants like the Windsor, which were also grown in Exbury Gardens and the Royal Castle, that were brought to Kew for conservation. the Girard, the Ilam which comes from New Zealand, and the Slonecker, adapted for climatic conditions of North America, are additional examples. All of these plants grow calmly and happily now in England thanks to the professional care they receive. During summer, there are information sessions to learn more about plants and how to care for them at home.
If you follow the path along the river, you will find your way towards this greenhouse. This is a fantastic place, there are all kinds of plants and flowers and they're all arranged so well that it makes you want to take them all. They sell everything on display, both the plants and furniture. This is truly a wonder, if you are by Richmond, don't miss it.
I love heading to Richmond Park by London as it's like a little oasis of peace and serenity attached to London. You can find wild parrots and deer in the park, lots lakes and ponds, miles of walks through stunning woods and forests all within a few square miles. When the sun lifts the fog it's an amazing place to go and take photographs. My picture was shot one misty morning by one of the many lakes.
Kew greenhouses are one of the main attractions of this Royal Botanic English Parl. The gardens are located just south of London, and are reached by Metro, Zone 3. The greenhouses contribute to the protection and conservation of species that bring researchers from around the world. Kew wanted to have an educational role, and offers diplomas in horticulture, PhD projects as well as days for the public to come and see plants and their environments.
For children, there are different labels, with the ordinary name of the plants, so they know to distinguish, without having to miss with scientific names. There are well made signs that help to explain where the plants come from, how they grow and their role in the daily lives of the people of this region. There are also activities for school groups.
The Kew Greenhouses always want to be ahead of botanical research, and so they make their results available to the public. Inside of the temperate greenhouses they have one particular space, which has plants from Oceania and South America. Most of these plants live in a temperate climate. There is also the conservatory of Princess Diana, which contains an interesting collection of orchids and cactus garden and a part of it has been dedicated to the underwater world.
In the beginning, Kew was a garden, created by Lord Capel of Tewkesbury. Widened by Princess Augusta, the construction in the year 1761, is still the tip of the garden. Eventually the many kings helped the expansion of Kew, and in the year 1840 it was recognized as a national botanical garden. The conservatory at Kew was the biggest in the world in the 19th century, and the garden, which is over 120 acres, already had 109, and was the biggest of the time. The palm was the 1st gigantic wrought iron structure that was made in Europe. All glass panels had to be constructed to fit. The greenhouse, which is twice the size of the palm, was later constructed, and here is the biggest Victorian-style follow up. Kew is famous for reproducing plants out of their natural environment, like as rubber trees brought from South America, and began to grow successfully. In the year 1987, they opened the Princess of Wales Conservatory with over 20 ecosystems. Hundreds of trees were destroyed in a big storm. It was named it a world heritage site in the year 2003 by UNESCO.
During the festival in Japan in 2001, the gardens of Kew acquired a Japanese wooden house called a Minka. The house is from around 1900 and comes from around the city of Okazaki. Japanese artisans disassembled it and then reassembled it on the grounds right next to the bamboo garden. The English added dried mud walls. Until the mid-twentieth century, most people in Japan including farmers and traders, lived in traditional wooden houses called minkas. Each house has a wooden stand but the panels are of mud and thatch. All of the materials needed to build the house could be found in the woods and the structure could withstand an earthquake. In northern Japan, the houses had smaller windows and roofs that were less flat to help with the snow and long winters, while in the south, the houses were lower to the ground and had raised floors for ventilation and resisting hurricanes. With few interior walls, the space could be used for both work and living at the same time. Many of the minka houses were destroyed during the twentieth century and then replaced by modern houses which typically last 30 years and create a lot of pollution.
Marianne North was a British minister's daughter, who devoted her life to painting flowers and plants from all over the world. Some of the countries included North America, South America, Asia and Africa, but she also painted local plants. The Marianne North Gallery was built in the 1880s to present to the public her paintings, and has now 832 botanical paintings. Some are of landscapes, but most are close ups of plans and have a more scientific take rather than a touristic one.
In the Victorian era, Marianne North was considered a marginal girl, she never married and spent her life traveling. Her only goal was to paint plants in their natural environment, despite her poor health, which exposed her to tropical diseases. She donated the building and its collection of paintings to Kew Gardens, ten years before her death. The building was designed by James Fergusson, inspired the use of natural light in the ancient Greek temples. The paintings are organized by continent, and is impressive because the building is very small, and the paintings are glued right next to each other, even up to the ceiling!
Few plants were so important to Japanese families as the bamboo. These plants, with strong but flexible trunk, grow everywhere in the country. There are over 600 different types of the plant, but it is known by the name of Madrake and it is the most common and most used. In the bamboo garden, we can see many types, as they grow, and as they are isolated from each other by trenches, as bamboo grows very quickl. Minka is in a house that is in Kew, we can see that the plant supports the structure of the house. The walls are covered with woven bamboo, to and make them more beautiful and cozy. Bamboo baskets were used for groceries, preparing food, storing clothes and bedding, and even to raise silk worms. They used bamboo tools and utensils for cooking, cleaning and farming. Bamboo is in the festivals, cultural activities and ceremonies. Actors have bamboo fans and umbrellas, the calligraphers wrote with pens made of bamboo flutes , etc.
Possibly one of the most glamorous parts of London. Just recently I had to travel to the British capital for work, and was lucky enough to have the time to visit Richmond. When you enter, you'll feel that you're not in London ... or in the 21st century. The Victorian buildings that line the roads seem to be welcoming you back in time. There are many parks, and the opportunity to take plenty of long walks by the river. It's a glimpse of the famous green rural England from movies. It's usually crowded with visitors, especially when the weather is good, as here people can row boats, sail, enjoy a picnic, or just relax by the river, where you'll find a lot of pubs and restaurants. A mini cruise can be taken, connecting Richmond with the center of London. Nearby is Hampton Court Palace, which is well worth a visit. A really charming place that, despite the fact that I live in Scotland, feels like a completely different country.
Entering through the main entrance to Richmond Park, turn immediately to your left and about a hundred meters away you will see a parking lot that serves this golf club. The course itself is very nice except the clubhouse leaves a little to be desired in terms of architecture ... Look out for rabbits, geese and foxes while on the course!
Entering through the main entrance to Richmond Park, turn immediately on your left and after about a hundred meters, you will find a large parking lot. Here you'll find a bike rental company and small cafe, serving mainly burgers. In terms of the bike rental, you can get everything from kids' bikes to tandems. It's a great way too see the park!
On a very hot day, I turned down an alley in search of shade ... only to find this large church in a state of superb conservation. St Mary Magdalene's is an Anglican church built in the early sixteenth century, that has undergone several restorations (some better than others) in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It stands on a site that has been used for a church since 1220. It was rebuilt by Henry VII, and burned by order of his son, Henry VIII, ve then proceeded to rebuild it once more. The last renovation was some forty years ago, repairing the damage of the Second World War. Here you'll find the grave of William Hickey, a nobleman of the city ve fought to eliminate poverty and hunger.
I thought that I'd found one of the poshest parts of the country here in Richmond, with wealth, luxury and BBC English spoken everywhere I went. I'm speaking about Petersham. This village doesn't appear on maps, and is hidden away. All the houses are huge, and everything is very English, very green and very classic, close to some of those super expensive old schools which prepare their students for entry to Oxford and Cambridge: the German School (formerly the German Grammar School).
From a political point of view, Petersham is part of Richmond, but it seems to receive some special privileges, typical of rural areas (possibly thanks to the taxes of the rich people ve live here). Visually it is colorful and eye-catching, and it's one of the few parts of England that remains where everyone stops at 5 pm to sit down for tea.
This is a geological journey into the past that gives the emissions of evolution in Kew Gardens. When there was no oxygen on earth, lakes of boiling mud were filled with single cells until the first plant pushed us into antiquity. 3.5 billion years ago, life began here when a single cell began to evolve. There are Cooksonia, which are probably the first land plants.
The tour is very well geared for children who receive a pamphlet, explaining volcanoes, dinosaurs, and the evolution of plants. In the Jurassic Era, there were conifers. In the Cretaceous period, the plants began to have small, pale flowers which took millions of years to have color. The dinosaurs became extinct. Then comes the Tertiary Period (2-60 million years ago) where the earliest forms of primates and humans evolved. At the end, you feel very small.