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Kew Gardens Incredibles Festival

October 6, 2013

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I consider myself extremely fortunate to live close to the world-famous botanical gardens – Kew Gardens. As the gardens are only a couple of miles from my house it’s a place where I regularly go for a walk and my Friends of Kew Gardens ticket (£65 a year) gives me unlimited access so I can enjoy the gardens in different seasons, which is great. I love to go in the spring when snowdrops and crocuses are pushing their way through the earth; the summer when the gardens are full of bright colour. Now, of course, the gardens are gradually turning to the colours of autumn and offer a different kind of beauty.

There’s nearly always some kind of special exhibition or event, like the wonderful Henry Moore exhibition in 2008 and the stunning wood sculptures of David Nash last year. This year, throughout the summer and now into the autumn, Kew has given itself over to edible delights. Edible delights are of course a source of excitement to The Single Gourmet Traveller but the festival has been made more special to me by Kew using one of my blog’s photos – of a stuffed harlequin squash – in their Pumpkin Parade.

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During the summer the flowerbeds in front of the Palm House were given over to formal displays of vegetables. It reminded me of watching Monty Don’s wonderful TV series, French Gardens, when he visited the formal vegetable gardens of Villandry.

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One of Don’s disappointments with those gardens was that everything was grown for show and not to be eaten. It was great, therefore, to go along to Kew this morning and see the pumpkins being harvested and laid out for sale. So … get along quickly if you live nearby and you can cook your own Kew Gardens’ pumpkin!

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It’s getting towards the end of the Incredibles festival now but there’s still a lot to see. There are sculptor Tom Hare’s towering fungi made from willow.

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Behind the Palm House you will find the Rose Garden Tea Party – a huge table laid out with special china on or in which edible plants grow, from lettuce and rocket, to beets, tea and tomatoes. I quite expected the Mad Hatter to pop out at any moment because there very much an Alice in Wonderland feel to this display.

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There were coffee plants growing in the Princess of Wales conservatory and just outside a fabulous exhibition of award-winning photographer REZA’s images of farmers and communities around the world who produce Nespresso coffee through sustainable methods.

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And a Tropical Larder inside the Palm House with lots of things like ginger, papaya and bananas.

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There’s lots of interest for everyone and special events for kids so with just a month more to run, take a trip to Kew and enjoying their wonderful Edibles festivals – and pick up a squash to bring home too! For more information visit the Kew Gardens website – click here.

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