Thanks to a cheap flight and some rapid vacation planning, I had the good fortune to be in London for my birthday last year. Because I love gardening and all things botanical, I made plans to trek out to Kew Gardens for my birthday outing. Kew Gardens is huge, so rather than overwhelming you with a rambling description of all 300 acres of garden glory, I’ll break it down into a few bite-size posts over the next few weeks. Our first stop on our garden tour is the Palm House.
The Kew Gardens’ Palm House Quick Facts
- The Palm House was built over four years, starting in 1844.
- The design was borrowed from the shipbuilding world. The Palm House is essentially an overturned boat with wrought iron serving as the “ship’s” beams.
- In between those bits of wrought iron are about 16,000 panes of glass. So, no throwing of stones!
- The greenhouse was specifically designed to house the palm trees that were all the rage in Victorian England at the time.
- The oldest tree is a cycad that was brought to Kew in 1775.
- In 1984, a four-year project began to give the building an overhaul. The entire collection of plants was dug out and the building dismantled, given a tidying up, and reassembled – sort of like a huge and very fragile jigsaw puzzle. Most of the plants were then put back into place.
- The Palm House contains palm trees from Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific. In addition to palms, there are other tropical plants such as coffee trees, sugar cane, and rubber trees.
- A wrought-iron spiral staircase takes you to a somewhat narrow catwalk that allows you to walk amongst the tree tops.
- Afraid of heights? You can head to the basement to check out the aquarium that replicates coral reefs, mangrove swamps, shorelines, and salt marshes.
Kew is an easy 40-minute Tube ride from central London. For more information, check out the Kew Gardens website, or simply follow this blog over the next few weeks.
TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCIL. YOU CAN FIND HER WORK AT TAMMIE PAINTER’S BOOKSTORE & GALLERY.