Patterns of the Palm House
Last week, on a rare dry day, I made my very first visit to Kew Gardens in London. It is almost ridiculous that I have never visited before but living where I do it involves at least 6 hours on trains so you can understand why I have talked myself out of a visit time and again. However, as I wanted to meet up with some horticultural friends who live in London and who I hadn’t seen for just over a year it seemed a good venue for a Christmas get together.
The main attraction was the Palm House, which was particularly apt as I was with a group who are very into exotics and knowledgeable on the subject. However, I found myself distracted completely by the structure of the Palm House with most of my photographs looking up beyond the foliage to the roof. The Palm House was built between 1844 and 1848 by the architect Decimus Burton and the iron maker Richard Turner. It was the first large scale structural use of wrought iron. Sadly the Temperate House, which is even larger, is closed for restoration and will probably be shut until 2018 but I might get around to another visit by then!
I loved the spiral staircases which take you to the top of the Palm House and on to a walkway from where you can look down on to the foliage.
You also get to see close up the detail of the building’s construction.
I found the contrast of the lush tropical foliage with the hard and geometric structure fascinating, especially with the benefit of a beautiful blue sky in the background.
Just like the structure of the building many of the plants housed here have strong architectural shapes, such as this Dioon spinulosum (I think!).
We also visited the Alpine House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which I really enjoyed but is hard to photograph well unless you take plant close-ups which I didn’t as again I was distracted by the overall view.
All in all it was a lovely day out despite leaving home in the dark and a return journey completely in the dark. Maybe a summer visit will allow a longer visit with the opportunity to explore the outside of the gardens more. Maybe an overnight visit would be an even better idea, maybe to coincide with RHS Chelsea – I feel a plan forming!