Sunday, 5 February 2012

An extravaganza, behind the scenes at Kew and a bit of snow

Well the snow has come; we have had a frosty week with a good splattering of snow overnight. Buses are skidding, old ladies are falling over and I’m staying in with the heating on all day.

I think I can safely say that all the tender stuff is now dead, hopefully the greenhouse is ok, certainly the stuff in the sideway is doing fine, when I checked the metre cupboard last week my Abyssinian banana looked quite happy, and the cannas had actually grown about 2ft of etiolated stems...oops.

So what better thing to do yesterday than head to Kew for a behind the scenes tour of the tropical nurseries and have a peep at the extravaganza.  We also went via the new David Hockney exhibition  at the RAA and I must say I was blown away by it........In essence there are lots of huge, energetic paintings of the Yorkshire landscape charting the seasons and really marvelling in the wonder of nature. Fabulous energy and celebration of the seasons, and very inspiring. Go see it if you are in London and can get tickets.
Anyway, I digress... we went to Kew as the fabulous Leslie (whom helped on the open day) is a guide there and was doing a special tour and gave us a heads up. I was really keen to go as I did a week’s work experience there when I was 15? which was a great experience I won’t forget  seeing all the unseen bits and tinkering with cacti and succulents whilst wandering the PoW.

The motley crew...deperate to learn more and find out why their orchids dont grow well
For the tour we headed out as a small group through a gate into the powerhouse of Kew, an acre of glass spread into about 24 different climatic zones. We wandered the path round the edge meeting some well placed plants on route from cacti to carnivores and critically endangered plants. There was also a good opportunity to peer through into the different bits of greenhouse to see the perfectly tended plants including about 7 of the giant Titan Arums which are wheeled out when flowering to the many orchids and succulents.
Ant plants (on hanging on the all): their stems swell up like footballs and have a warren of cavities inside for the ants to live in. They get a home, the plant gets protection from predators and considerate ants which poo in the right place to give the plan extra nutrients.

Loads of succulents, quite prickle tastic

No, not the sewerage plant but where they grow the tropical lillies

Leslie was of course fabulous and I have a lot of respect for the dedication and passion of the Kew guides whom are all volunteers, do go on one of their tours if you are around.

Afterwards we had a peek at the tropical extravaganza in the PoW. I must admit that this isn’t the end of gardening I’m particularly keen on as I prefer a more naturalistic approach......don’t even get me started on the giant luminous mushrooms......however, I can see how there were lots of very beautiful plants if you are into that kind of thing.
Mmmm im not sure. I think my Granny had one like this made of plastic.

Bit more exciting...lots of epiphytic orchids, their roots hanging down to grab you

So a nice weekend off digging! It has also been good to catch up with ordering things (Greengage, Mirabelle and Hereford Russet tree on its way) and planning for visiting the London RHS show. I’m also getting the hang of this Twitter malarkey and there has been some really good blogging going on. I was particularly taken with the pictures of using fire as a natural way of managing a prairie garden. And finding the blogs of pampas2palms and bamboo and more. Happy gardening!

The new/old pond looking even more like a swiming pool!


  1. Quite a mixed weekend for all of us, sunny, snowy, frosty, kew-y, etc..

    Interesting insight on the behind the scenes of Kew, something we have yet to do. We've missed out on a few opportunities, must make an effort next time!

    We had an impromptu visit to Kew today, as it was snowy and couldn't do much in the garden. We have the same sentiments with regards to the Tropical Extravaganza display, very pretty though and appeals to lots of people. The floral arches though did look 'wedding-y'...

  2. I like your snow pictures! at least Kew was lovely and warm, do keep tabs on the tours as it is interesting to see

    you are right those arches are weddingy, or like the arches you get coming off a cruise ship/entrance to a prom complete with many happy couples underneath having their picture taken underneath!

    1. Looks like you may have had more snow than us this year, unbelievable. We are due for some tonight and a couple more times this week. It has actually been rather warm this winter and the bulbs in the garden have already sprung. They are in for a rude awakening. Plus birds have already started to migrate north. Kew looks fascinating. Have to make time for a tour when we make it over next time. Mark has participated in a couple of prairie burns over here in Indy. Works wonders on naturalizing the landscape. Later Liz