Updated: Feb 7, 2021
It was a beautiful and sunny August weekday at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew. A few people are around admiring the scenery and taking in the beauty of nature. I do not remember the last time had been to these beautiful botanical gardens, but I do know it had been a significant amount of time as I could not recall how it looked back then. What I did come to discover, is that the gardens were stunning. My return to these gardens were in the company of my girlfriend. It proved to be a lovely experience to share together.
There were several artistic exhibitions and new structures around to compliment the proven existing buildings that are mainstays at Kew Gardens. The beauty of nature melded so seamlessly with manmade structures; it is a great feeling to see how well both are combined.
One of the big draws for this visit was The Great Pagoda. Previously, I had not entered this attraction. This presented a great opportunity to take a fresh view on this attraction as my girlfriend would be visiting for the first time and I would be striding to summit for the first time with her. The ascent can be surprisingly tortuous for those unprepared. It is best to work on some cardio prior to entry if you intend to reach the time with little effort.
However, we would fall in the unprepared column. An arduous and tiring expedition for minor pay-out. While the climb is eventful with stories and illustrations along the way describing the pagoda, the summit was somewhat limited. Without prior research, I was under the impression there was a balcony or platform where you could observe the garden from outside the peak of the pagoda. After the initial disappointment wore off, it was still enjoyable and nonetheless, awe-inspiring to take in the views of the surrounding areas.
A bonus of this experience was that we were the only ones in the pagoda at that time. There was a sense of romantic-ness and enjoyment in being able to take it in quietly. Almost feeling like a private experience. The descent however, not so much. The Great Pagoda began to get busier, as such, navigating the stairs and the narrow passageways made it more difficult. We were fortunate this all occurred after our booking slot was complete. It was just a case of getting out.
Once back out in the main gardens, we opted to visit the Japanese Landscape since it was not too far away. Having been to Japan in the past, it brought back great memories, to reminisce about the beauty that Japan has to offer. The urge to return and explore what that country has to offer was strong. For this attraction to have this affect is a testament to how well it has been put together. Coupled with the gorgeous weather conditions, it all came together for such a relaxing experience.
The next destination was the iconic Temperate House. One of the attractions that, once you see it, Kew Gardens comes to mind. A collection of numerous species of plants, the Temperate House is a wonderful place to discover these plants and learn about them. Another element of this attraction is being able to observe from above. There are a few spiral staircases around that appear daunting at first but are the gateway to the next level. From this vantage point, it is possible to take in the view of most if not all the Temperate House has to offer.
A similar experience can be had at the Palm House – an indoor rainforest that one needs to be prepared before entering. For one step in and you will be hit by a new climate, a new environment. The increase in humidity is what will strike first. The dense warm air filling your lungs will truly make you feel like you are in the tropics. If you are among the many that wear spectacles, then being unable to see beyond the condensation forming on the lenses is the next experience. Nevertheless, the Palm House delivers an awe-inspiring experience that one would not usually get the opportunity to encounter.
Both the Temperate House and the Palm House were places that I do recall visiting from my younger days. From what I have written, I am hopeful you can get the idea why such an experience has stayed with me all this time.
There is a notable attraction I regret not taking photographs of, and that was the Sackler Crossing. A beautifully crafted curved wooden bridge over a lake. I particularly adored this structure as wood is one of my favourite materials, therefore, the craftsmanship and design really resonated with me. Unfortunately, a sudden downpour of rain hit as we were at this attraction which was a great surprise considering the lovely weather up until that point. As a result, we had to take cover and I was then unable to take my time to photograph the crossing.
We took cover at the Palm House until the rain subsided. After which, we found ourselves on the path to the Rock Garden. The main draw for us at this attraction was the cascading waterfalls. It was a sight to behold and worth the visit. Peaceful and serene, all the better as the Gardens were not particularly busy. This allowed us to take in this experience at our own pace; and in turn, capture several photos.
I was surprised to eventually find that the photo above would be shared by one of my favourite publications to follow – Secret London. This photo would be one of my favourites from the day.
Further along the path from the Rock Garden is an architectural marvel, the Davies Alpine House. At first glance, no one would fault you for thinking this structure was out of a sci-fi blockbuster. Once your senses adjust back to reality, one can admire the beauty of the design. This attraction is home to plants that are typically found in higher altitudes. Plant life that thrive in cool and dry conditions.
Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, there were not many plants at this attraction. Especially considering the size of the structure. The experience ultimately seemingly passed by with the main takeaway being the stunning architecture.
Not too far from the Davies Alpine House rests the aptly named Bonsai House. Personally, Bonsai trees are one of my favourites. I find it incredible how they grow and the beauty in the various shapes and forms they may take. A few years ago, I owned a Bonsai tree. I would care and water it, clean and talk to it.
Encourage it to grow and settle into the beauty of it. Unfortunately, I was not able to care for it when my family and I went on holiday. It was a shame for me to find upon my return that the plant was beginning to die. The leaves were falling, and its growth seemed stunted. I was devastated. It was from this experience that I garnered a great respect for the amount of care and attention these plants need.
It was so refreshing to see these various Bonsai trees on display and reminded me of the beauty of these plants. It was also a great point to call time on this visit. We had a final stroll around the gardens as we headed towards the exits. A great chance to take in the beauty of the gardens. It was so refreshing to be reminded of the beauty in the world. It was refreshing to be reminded of the beauty of Kew Gardens. Until the next visit…