Greencleanguide’s editor had an opportunity to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens recently. These are some excerpts from his notes.
Royal Botanical Gardens is magnificent. I had heard a lot about this World Heritage site, so when I was in London, I kept one full day in my itinerary to visit the place. The tube goes directly to Kew and is the best means of transport in otherwise traffic busy London. The Richmond line goes to Kew. The gardens open at 9:30 am and I would suggest arriving early as the place is huge and one full day is required for a fruitful visit. I reached at 9 sharp and it was not uncommon to see extra punctual travellers like me.
The only deterrent factor in visiting Kew is the high price of the ticket. It is 14.50 pounds with an optional 1.50 pounds as donation. A free detailed map is given along with the ticket. However, once you enter, the high price seems justified. The place is worth it. The Kew explorer is for people who cannot walk but I would suggest if you can, take a walking tour. Start from the Victoria gate and walk towards the left visiting the galleries first and then complete a full circle.
There is the Marianne North gallery with drawings and some interesting anecdotes. There were no pictures in ancient times and the level of dedication that went into some of the drawings is an eye opener. The walk may leave you tired but there are chairs at regular intervals where you can relax.
Right ahead is a ruined archway and the Japanese pagoda and landscape. The place is so beautiful that nobody can pass without spending a few minutes here. Almost the entire world plant species are covered here and there are many thematic conservatories such as the Temperate and Evolution house (Evolution house was closed for repairs during my visit). The bamboo garden is another place that needs mention. The Japanese have helped in establishing a traditional Japanese Bamboo house which has been put together without use of nails.
If you have kids, then do visit the Treetop Walkway otherwise give it a skip. The Sackler crossing is a good spot for watching fowls that seem to linger near the water. There are a number of observatories and no matter which species of plants you are interested in, you are bound to find it here. One observatory has many thematic gardens such as the desert, orchid, tropical, temperate etc with temperatures carefully regulated inside each to ensure the survival of the species.
The Azalea garden has many beautiful flowering species and is a good spot to spend some time. Princess of Wales conservatory, Queen Charlotte’s cottage and two temples are also places that cannot be skipped.
It took me one full day to visit most of the places (but not all). It is best to bring a picnic lunch with you but there is also a restaurant inside. The gardens close at 6:30 pm on weekdays.
For more information, visit the website of KEW gardens.