On a bright and sunny November morning, a small group of Liverymen joined Master Neil Edwards, friends and family, for a guided tour of the breath taking Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew by a friendly and knowledgeable guide.
Kew lays claim to being the world’s largest collection of living plants, including the world’s oldest pot plant (dating from 1775), it is home to the world’s largest seed conservation project, and the smallest of the Royal palaces lies within its grounds. Intriguingly, more scientists than gardeners work within its 300 acres!
Our trip included the Palm House, a magnificent construct which resembles the hull of an upturned ship. This made sense once we learned that the architects had studied ship-building techniques because no glasshouse had ever been made on this scale before!
Then onto the Princess of Wales Conservatory, named after Princess Augusta. Built on a N/W axis, it benefits from warm light even during the winter. Here we found out why genuine vanilla is such a valuable commodity – allegedly $600 per kilo!
Horticulturalists hand pollinate the flowers because the natural pollinator, the Melipona bee, does not live outside its native area. We were also mesmerised by the Golden Barrel Cactus – which looked beguilingly inviting, like soft, plump cushions!
Although we didn’t visit The Pagoda, it was visible from a distance. It was built in 1762, to boast a sophisticated knowledge of the Orient. Our trip included the 320m Broad Walk, flanked by cedar trees and herbaceous borders.
We were fortunate to see Kew at its spectacular Autumnal best.