My birthday and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
I almost want to say, “welcome to my annual RBG Kew post!”
But it’s true.
On my birthday it’s traditional for us to visit Kew and, in all of England, there’s no other place I’d rather be.
I get absolutely giddy walking into these gardens. I just can’t help it!
One tiny problem of a July visit is that Kew holds evening concerts here and so closes the gardens a wee bit early.
Tonight All Saints, featuring Mel C Spice Girl, were playing but we’re not really fans, so just enjoyed our day and didn’t plan on staying for the concert.
This year the gardens were just spectacular.
You know, some years these beautiful deep borders are full of vegetables, or herbs, but this year, it was flowers all the way.
Masses and masses of flowers.
Eight to twelve feet deep!
All being well tended to by the gardeners.
My new favourite find this year is this rose. (Are you surprised it’s a rose? LOL)
It’s Rosa Kew Gardens and it might be my new favourite rose.
We walked down the main walk to the Orangerie to have my birthday lunch.
And after lunch, to Kew Palace, the palace medical garden, and then on to the kitchens and the kitchen garden.
The little, walled kitchen garden is one of my favourite garden in the world.
This is inside the little garden shed.
I just love walled gardens. Such an amazingly clever way to make your own micro-climate for the best and earliest veggies.
I’ve wanted to have a few rhubarb cloches for a million years now, but can’t think of a practical way to import them to my Vancouver garden.
Oh, I just noticed the little black bird sitting on the wheelbarrow. He’s probably after the raspberries.
Everywhere you look there are beautiful veggies and fruits, many ready for harvesting like these onions.
This isn’t a very big space, but it’s big enough for all the veggies and fruit for an entire family.
Oh heaven to be able to garden in a space like this.
Inside the palace kitchen is an upstairs where the housekeeper used to sit and keep ledgers.
reading these ledgers is something. You can see that they recorded meals which included something like 12 chickens, 24 pheasants, 16 rabbits, and a swan for one meal.
Do you like my summer dress? I love it. Bought it in Prague.
On this level is a lockable cold pantry where preserves, cheeses, and smoked meats were kept.
And downstairs are the kitchens.
These are the shabby chic rooms of my dreams!
I could live here.
Just need to add an Aga, a big jug of flowers, and I’m done!
Every year, after lunch and the kitchen garden, I drop Robert off in the nearest gazebo so he can have a rest, and I go thru the water gardens and the big walled garden.
This walled garden is a bee paradise.
In the water garden, one of the gardeners was cleaning out the ponds.
I asked her why the water looked so deep and black, and she told me that Kew has begun testing an organic dye, which darkens the water, doesn’t do any harm at all to the plants and creatures, and inhibits some of the algae growth because the algae cannot photosynthesize thru the dark water. Not to mention that the pools look like something out of a fairy tale.
How amazing is that?
I tend not to go into the Princess of Wales conservatory very often, and mainly because there are so many other places I love better and time is usually short, but the grasses in front are amazing.
I’m really beginning to love these grass gardens.
Wonder how it would look to incorporate some grasses into my urban garden.
Wonder if you really need a much bigger space for grasses.
The reason I don’t really devote time to the P of W conservatory too often is because it doesn’t change very much and it’s right beside the walled veggie and Kew student gardens. I love these gardens and always find so much inspiration.
This summer had a much warmer start, so most of the roses are bloomed out, but the veggies are well ahead of schedule.
One thing which I always look for, especially for my urban gardens, are the various tricks the gardeners use to grow vertically.
This year, for the first time EVER, the student’s were selling off some fo their produce and flowers.
How amazing is that?
I bought some of the beans, some chard, a cucumber, zucchini, parsley, and those sweet peas. Veggies to feed the body and gotta have the sweet peas to feed the soul!
Then I walked back to where I left Robbie and we carried on past the Hive to the glass houses.
This is the waterlily house.
Inside are tropical vines growing all over the walls and ceiling.
And in the middle is this pool full of black water and aquatic plants.
That little yellow blooming plant is Chloe’s favourite Mimosa Pudica, the sensitive plant.
In Vancouver, she has trouble growing the smallest pot of it and here it’s stretching over the pool and half way down the side!
So all we need is a warm, humid, tropical waterlily house in the back garden and C can grow her Mimosa all she likes!
The Palm house has remained my favourite glass house for the past several years.
Actually, even before the Temperate house shut down four years ago for renovation, the Palm house was still my favourite and even more so now because most of the Temperate house plants had to be relocated to here, so it really is like a thick tropical jungle.
I alway take the time to walk up the old Victorian staircase to the tree top balcony.
The climb up puts you right next to the flowers and tree crowns.
And from up high, the view across all of Kew is amazing.
Robbie usually skips this house and waits for me on the other end.
My last stop of the day is always at the Marianne North gallery.
She was a Victorian botanist and botanical artist.
She was one of those very rare Victorian women with the money and freedom to do as they pleased.
She knew Charles Darwin and travelled the world painting plants and scenes and collecting botanical specimens.
At Kew, there are 832 of her paintings.
A couple years ago Kew bizarrely put up “no photography” signs in this gallery. Yeah, like that’s going to stop us.
But over the years when photography was allowed I’ve photographed probably every painting here, so for me, it’s not such a great loss.
So there you are my friends. A rather long post of my ideal day.
The commute from London to Oxford was twice as long as the commute in courtesy of the rush hour, but we didn’t care.
With all these lovely Kew veggies, supper was just minutes away.
If you have trouble cleaning pool, check out pool service in Orange County to get an excellent service.
Happy Birthday!!! and thank you for sharing this amazing day, what a gorgeous place. <3
Robert Frank Gasch
Thank you Veronica and Robert, for the great posts!!!
I love your posts from the Kew Gardens. 🙂 I just watched a pbs program by Monty Hall , doing those gardens, which was awesome to watch but your posts and photos make it that much more personal. Thank you. Love the dress btw!! I noticed that the Duchess of Cambridge wore a similar one last month…you stylin woman you!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Debra She Who Seeks
Happy Birthday! It does indeed sound like the perfect day. And very interesting info about that black water.
Wishing you all the best on your special day! Your new dress is very pretty, I like the cut and you wear it beautifully. Kew Gardens is spectacular. Love all the flowers and plants. Nothing better than a day surrounded by natures beauty. I have grown a few ornamental grasses and my Uncle collected them. They can become very large and some of them proliferate, volunteers randomly popping up here and there. A friend grew a 7 ft. tall grass that was 5 ft. in diameter, he controlled the diameter by mowing around it.
I find grasses quite architectural. Using black dye in ponds is very interesting. Black makes a nice backdrop for water plants. This year I used black bark mulch in my gardens and I do like the black very much. The black contrast makes shrubs and flowers really pop. Thank you V and R for sharing your day.
What a super duper way to spend a birthday, it was obviously a happy day for you! I’ve recently been posting pictures of a garden tour, but your pictures of Kew make mine look pathetic!!! I love the black water, but wouldn’t it colour the plants in some way? And those grasses…. wow. It’s all quite overwhelming!
Happy birthday wishes to you. Such a beautiful place!
Hey V .. I missed your birthday! I hope you had the best day. Happy happy belated birthday lovely girl …
so many images but my fav is the bees on the ilium .. the conservatory/greenhouse looks so much like the one at the NY Botanical Gardens … Enid Haupt philanthropies built ours