It’s been such a busy month that I haven’t managed to get to Kew Gardens on a Sunday morning for the July post in my Year in Kew Gardens series. And here we are nearly at August with no Sundays left in July! So a Thursday morning it had to be. I saw that the Gardens – which normally open at 10.00 a.m. – open at 8.00 a.m. during the summer months for Friends so that they can get in early and avoid the rush. That seemed like a great idea but I live too far away to walk and it turned out that parking the car near Victoria Gate (the Gate that opens early) was impossible before 10 due to parking restrictions, so I went away back down the road to Richmond and Butter Beans, bought a paper, had a coffee and got back to Kew in time to enter on the dot of 10.00 a.m.
I invariably take a right turn as I go through Victoria Gate towards the Palm House. One can always count on a blaze of colour here that I’ve watched change through the first half of the year as different plants come into season. In general, the Gardens have suffered a bit from a virtually rain-free July. Some areas have obviously been watered but in other areas the grass has turned brown and shrubs have lost their vibrancy. My time was limited this morning so I couldn’t walk as far as I normally do for these posts, and thus I decided to concentrate on the area around the Kew on a Plate kitchen garden and then went into the Secluded Garden, which I haven’t visited for a long time – in fact not since beginning these posts.
In the Kew on a Plate garden they’ve devised a nice way of dividing the rows of fruit and vegetables: they’ve trained espalier apple trees along the divisions at a low height (as in the photo above). There were lots of wonderful sunflowers too, such a gorgeous expression of summer with their big, bright smile of a face. They always remind me of regular trips to France when my kids were young and driving past fields of sunflowers that would turn their heads to face to the sun. I love the sun too and it always puts a smile on my face.
I walked through a pergola where a profusion of lavender was growing, spilling out across the narrow pathway and filling the air with a glorious perfume. It felt wonderful, especially as I was on my own, having come in early. It was very peaceful and it made me think with excitement about my coming short break in Provence booked for mid-September.
Not surprisingly, the lavender had attracted many bees. They were flying round excitedly, alighting on a stem of lavender, feeding and then rushing on again. Easy to understand the expression ‘busy bees’.
I left the bees and made my way through an archway into the Rock Garden and the far side of the Princess of Wales Conservatory. It was then I spied the entrance to the Secluded Garden. From a distance I could see displays of colour and so decided to head over there. I passed a riot of Echinacea adding a splash of deep colour to a flower bed.
The weather was becoming duller and grey as I entered the Secluded Garden.
But there was the promised colour that I’d seen from a distance. Especially in the form of majestic agapanthus, the large crown of their regal purple-blue heads looking stunning along the edge of the flower beds.
From this far side of Kew Gardens, I looped back past the Orangery Restaurant. What a nice place to sit and eat, with colourful plants potted and laid outside. But I’d already had my morning coffee so kept going.
Then it was definitely time to head home … write the post … and get back to the day job. But what a lovely way to start my day!