The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Monkey puzzle trunkMonkey puzzles
A blue peacock at KewPeacocks
Kew Palm HouseAnd the Palm House!

My walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, was as enthralling as it was WET!

Yes, the heavens opened the moment I arrived - but this gave me the opportunity to enjoy the place with very few other people around, as well as take some rather satisfying photographs of rainy trees :)

Finding your way around Kew

Kew Gardens is a big place! And Kew's Arboretum covers a large part of the gardens, with over 14,000 trees to admire. Impossible to cover everything in a day, obviously, and as this was one of my earliest tree walks I was not as experienced or prepared as I should have been. No map, for a start - so be sure to check the latest visitor information for the most up-to-date map of Kew Gardens.

Another idea: familiarize yourself with the gardens by using Google street view - yes, you can enjoy the gardens sitting at home, navigating your way around the main paths on your computer/tablet/phone!

my walk around the royal botanic gardens kew

I started at the Victoria Gate entrance and found my way to the nearest ladies' loo, which looked as though the gardens were beginning to invade:

kew greenery ladies bathroomThe loo...the bathroom...the toilet...the plants aren't worried what you call it!

After that, I made my way past the Temple of Aeolus, originally constructed of wood in the 1760s and rebuilt in stone in the 1880s. Apparently there's a good view from there, but I was hurrying along and didn't stop...

Temple of Aeolus at KewThe Temple of Aeolus

On my way to the Plant Family Beds I spotted an oak labelled "Quercus" - presumably a common, or English, oak, with a traditional kind of label; nearby stood a black walnut with a more technological-looking label:

Quercus labelOak bark and label
Quercus leafOak leaf
Black walnut label with QR codeJuglans nigra - Black walnut - bark
Black walnut leavesBlack walnut leaves

And an Arbutus unedo 'Elfin King' - what a wonderful name! Known as strawberry tree:

Arbutus unedo, strawberry plant leavesStrawberry tree leaves

The plant family beds and the rose pergola

The Plant Family Beds were created in the 1860s. There are 102 beds and 93 plant families - so that gives you plenty to see just in this part of the gardens. The rose pergola, dating from 1959, is fantastic, even on a wet July day:

view of plant family bedsPlant Family Beds and pergola
plant beds and pergola in backgroundAnother view of the Plant Family Beds
Kew rose pergolaWalking under the rose pergola

I was super happy to meet the incredibly beautiful Feijoa sellowiana. Either a shrub or small tree, Feijoa is also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen.

Feijoa sellownia flowersFeijoa flowers
Feijoa sellownia leavesFeijoa leaves

And this giant is Magnolia delavayi, also called Chinese evergreen magnolia:

Magnolia delavayi leavesThe giant leaves of Magnolia delavayi

on my way to the ice house

Stopping by the School of Horticulture, I was fascinated by two huge gum trees, Eucalyptus perriniana, spinning gum; and Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. pauciflora, snow gum:

Spinning gum treeSpinning gum
Flowers spinning gumSpinning gum flowers and leaves
Fruit spinning gumSpinning gum fruit
Bark spinning gumSpinning gum bark
mottled bark spinning gumInteresting mottled bark on Spinning gum
snow gum treeSnow gum stretching high!
snow gum barkSnow gum bark

Leaving the gums (and dreaming of Australia!) I bumped into an Acer griseum, or paperbark maple:

Acer griseum, paperbark treePaperbark maple tree
Paperbark leavesPaperbark maple leaves
Paperbark barkPaperbark maple bark

Our next tree is quite famous: Turner's oak, planted in Kew in 1798, and bearing the name Quercus x. turneri.

This tree is semi-deciduous, being a hybrid of Quercus ilex, holm oak, and Quercus robur, English oak. It's named after Spencer Turner, an Essex nursery owner, who grew the original saplings:

Kew Turner's oakTurner's oak
Turner's oak leavesLeaves of Turner's oak

Somewhere between the gums above and Kew Palace, there is a Wollemi pine - but I couldn't find it, and there was nobody around to ask at the time. In fact, Kew was practically empty that day due to the weather! It's on the list for my next visit :)

I passed Kew Palace, but there was no sun for the sundial...

Kew palace and sundial

...and I admired a rather handsome Araucaria araucana - or monkey puzzle, always a delight to see!

Monkey puzzle treeMonkey puzzle tree
Monkey puzzle leavesMonkey puzzle leaves

Ice houses make me appreciate our fridges and freezers, and that's why I like seeing them! The Ice House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, was built in the middle of the 1700s and ice was taken - or "harvested" as the notice told me - from several nearby ponds. I wonder if any pond wildlife found its way into those blocks of ice?

Kew Ice House entranceEntering the Ice House...
Ice house interiorThe walls and domed ceiling
Ice House floorThe floor :)

As I was quite cold and wet at this point, it was time for a fast walk across the gardens to the Treetop Walkway.

But just by the Walkway I popped into the Temperate House to dry off a bit.

The temperate house

The Temperate House has been restored since I took these pictures. It will reopen on 5th May 2018 - just in time for my summer visit to the UK!

So here is what the Temperate House used to look like:

Kew Temperate HouseExterior of the Temperate House
Temperate House sign North Wing 1899North Wing entrance
Inside the Temperate HouseInside the Temperate House
Norfolk Island pine in Temperate HouseAraucaria heterophylla - Norfolk Island pine on the right, the darker coloured tree
Kew winding staircaseThe winding staircase

The Treetop walkway and sackler crossing

Entrance to Treetop WalkwayTreetop Walkway entrance

The Treetop Walkway is 18 metres high and 200 metres long. There are some fine views and it's not a bad place for plane spotters, either!

I was hoping to see a wider variety of trees here, but you can't have everything! There was plenty of Castanea sativa - sweet chestnut - and oak, too.

Sweet chestnut treeSweet chestnuts - and my umbrella!
Kew Treetop WalkwayThrough the treetops...
View of Temperate House from Treetop WalkwayView of the Temperate House
Plane in skyTime to check my flight app!

My last port of call was Sackler Crossing, built in 2006:

Sackler Crossing, KewSackler Crossing

And now I was well and truly soaked! So that was the end of a wonderful tree walk and I'm looking forward to another visit as soon as I can.

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew website

Kew Gardens on Facebook

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