Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Sunny with a chance of peacocks: a visit to Kew, the Royal Botanical Gardens

September 21, 2010 · 2 Comments

With sunny skies and a temperature of 20 degrees, yesterday was the perfect day to get out of the museums and visit Kew Gardens.  To get to the Kew Gardens tube stop, you take the Northern line to Embankment, and transfer to the westbound District line trains terminating at Richmond.  The ride from Embankment to Kew Gardens took a little over 30 minutes, so plan to spend at least 2 hours at the gardens to make the trip worthwhile. After leaving the Kew Gardens tube stop, you must take a brisk five minute walk down a tree lined street, to the Victoria gate of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The entrance fee at the gates is £13.50 for adults, but £11.50 if you bring your student ID.  At the entrance, I saw several people showing cards and being allowed quick entrance without buying tickets.  Later, when I spoke to a guide I inquired what this card entailed, and the guide explained that many of the denizens of the surrounding area had purchased membership in order to enjoy the privilage of visiting the park for free whenever it was open.  Even though the neighborhood by the tube stop was quite scenic and had lots of open public space, it became apparent to me that the ammenities that the park provided made a full membership worthwhile if you lived in the surrounding area.

As you walk down the path from the entrance, you are greeted by the sight of a diverse selection of trees from arround the world, neatly arranged in groves to the sides of the path.  Along the way, I spotted what is believed to be the oldest tree in Kew Gardens, a Sweet Chestnut tree thought to have been planted in the early 18th century.  The Sweet Chestnut tree is thought to have been introduced from Southern Europe by homesick Romans who were known to use the chestnuts to produce flour and other edibles.

I decided to walk to the southern end of the Gardens, toward the Japanese landscape garden, with a “Chokusi-Mon” replica in the center.  Chokusi-Mon means “Gateway to the Imperial Messenger” in Japanese, and this temple was a replica of one in Kyoto.

There was also a peacock just chillin’ to the side of the path, next to a bush!  Some of the other visitors, who seeing from their accents were British, passed by and made clicking noises to get the attention of the bird.  They were not very sucessful, but it reminded me of Kate Fox’s discussion about how Brits like to talk to pets and animals for as a coping mechanism for their social dis-ease.

Finally, I visited the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which contained several plant selections from several climate zones, including a Tropical Rainforest, Desert, Tropical and Temperate Ferns, and an Orchid room!  There were live butterflies in several of the rooms, but I couldn’t take any pictures because I used all of the spare memory on my camera.  If you are ever in London again, and want to escape the bustle of the city, go to Kew Gardens!

Categories: 2010 Tyler · Uncategorized

2 responses so far ↓

  •   seann // Sep 21st 2010 at 14:35

    Sounds awesome. I absolutely love japanese architecture. Were there other representative structures from other cultures in the garden?

  •   tylerweick // Sep 21st 2010 at 14:49

    yes, there was actually a very tall (perhaps 200 ft?) pagoda a short walk away from this Japanese garden. Not sure what culture it was from, but it was round, so it seems unlikely that it was of Japanese style.

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