Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew --

That's what the road signs call them: 327 acres of plants from every part of the world where a plant will grow, I suspect, and a safe haven for plant species that might otherwise disappear altogether.

We walked over to the gate at around eleven in the morning and got in without any fuss, because our friend Pat is a member. We had brought a picnic lunch, and our plan was to start by riding the land train right around the gardens, then decide where to go eat our lunch. What actually happened was that we got onto the train and started around the park, then discovered that our £4 tickets were good all day, as often as we wanted to ride -- so we hopped off near the lake and went in search of a shady bench. There were lots of benches, both sunny and shady, and lots of people opening their own picnic baskets, but we finally settled on a place with a serene view of the lake. We munched on Scotch eggs and cheese sandwiches with Branston pickle while the local goose gang circled us, waiting for somebody to drop something. Now, you may wonder why I've bothered to post a picture of a jar of relish in the middle of this story, but I have a good reason. If England has produced anything that can be termed a delight to the taste buds, Branston pickle is it -- or rather, the cheese is it, but the cheese is even better when it's accompanied by Branston pickle. There. If you can find it,  do try it.

But I digress. We managed to eat our lunch without actually being attacked by the geese, and then we walked on to the palm house, which was beautiful and hot. We climbed all the way to the top of the wrought-iron spiral staircase and walked along the balcony, from which we had a bird's-eye view of the many palm varieties. When breathing became an issue because of the heat and humidity, we descended the stairs, only to find that the stairs went down beyond the ground floor  to an aquarium -- a room full of aquariums, actually.

There were fish, of course, but my attention was drawn to a couple of strange denizens. This one sent Pat scurrying, but I stared deep into his eyes and discovered that he was actually kinda cute.

Robin had fled the building in search of oxygen, so before long, Pat and I followed. All over the gardens, there were babies -- ducks and coots and geese and swans all had their various young in tow.

We watched this little coot for quite a while. He seemed to be in distress, and we suspected that he had fallen out of the nest. His parent was having trouble getting him to eat. Finally, though, we saw the little fellow eat something, and we decided he would be okay. At least, we hoped he would.

We wandered until our feet and backs gave out. Pat had heard that one of the hot houses was featuring a  butterfly display, so we headed there. For a while we thought the exhibit was over, but then I happened to wander through the correct door, and there they were, flying everywhere around me, being nearly as beautiful as their surroundings.

When we had walked as far as we could, we flagged the train down and rode around the gardens again, enjoying the view, sending pedestrians scurrying. We didn't get to see everything, but we saw enough to make it a day we won't soon forget.

I'll tell you what just happened. First, I had to go make a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich, because it was past suppertime and my mouth was watering. Then I went back to my Kew photos, trying to decide which ones to show you -- and I was reminded how beautiful the place was, how many times (108) I had stopped to photograph something -- and in the end I decided to embed a slideshow again. I've omitted a few shots because there were children in them, and I didn't want to publish their photos without parental permission, but other than that, you're getting my whole manic clicking experience. I do hope you enjoy it.


Anonymous said...

Hey Moo
Those gardens are amazing. I especially loved the butterflies and the big narly tree.

Sandra Leigh said...

Hey, there, Anonymous. Good to see you. That big tree was over two hundred years old.

Karen said...

Beautiful! I love Kew Gardens but my photos are not nearly as good. I must get a techie lesson on how to embed photos in Blogger.

The Bug said...

Love the pictures! I was getting kind of mesmerized by the slide show - about fell off my chair. Looks like a lovely day.

I need to learn how to embed a slideshow on my blog - that would be a better way to show a lot of pictures! I'm working on a video for the Poetry Bus, so I think the slide show will be my next hurdle to conquer!

Sandra Leigh said...

Karen, Bug -- I just discovered how to do it, and it's dead easy. I made my slide show in Picasa, then used their 'embed' command. I didn't have to go through YouTube, which saved hours of messing around. I'm glad you enjoyed the show.

Kathryn Magendie said...

OH! those photos are fabulous - beautiful

That "bony hand" in the water, and the strange little fellow! and those trees - love the trees, and butterflies, flowers~ so much - beautiful!

Scotch eggs - my son used to prepare those, in the days he was playing bagpipes and cooking Scottish food.... so good.

AngelMay said...

I would LOVE to find myself in a butterfly house. How beautiful would that be? Glad you got to experience it, Sandra. Lovely photos, too.