It’s been such a busy month with my daughter’s wedding and then my holiday in Nice, that I was running out of time to visit Kew Gardens for this month’s post in the Year in Kew series. However, today I had a ticket to hear Melvyn Bragg speak at Kew’s ‘Write on Kew’ Literary Festival (24-27 September) and so it seemed a good idea to combine going to the talk with a walk round Kew for the blog.
Write on Kew is London’s new literary festival and there’s a fantastic list of speakers, covering areas such as fiction & poetry, non-fiction, science, nature & gardening and children’s literature. The speakers include Raymond Blanc, Andrew Marr, Michael Morpurgo, Bill Bryson, James Wong, Louis de Bernières, Richard E. Grant, Michael Frayn and many more famous names. I got the tickets to listen to Melvyn Bragg to go with my son who is currently reading Bragg’s The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011. Bragg however was there to talk about his latest historical novel, Now is Our Time, which is just about to be published. We arrived at the Gardens in time to make our way straight to the Nash Conservatory where the talk was to take place.
We really enjoyed the talk. Bragg’s knowledge and understanding of our history is immense but he manages to combine intellectual vigour with an easy, approachable style that makes him an entertaining speaker to listen to. We had to buy the book, of course, and after waiting to get it signed and have a brief word with Bragg, we decided we were in need of a bite to eat. It was 1.25pm. Definitely time for a bit of lunch. The Orangery Restaurant was so crowded I suggested we went back to the café at Victoria Gate as we only wanted a snack.
There were some rather splendid looking cakes but we stuck to savoury, choosing pots of salads, a savoury muffin and a chicken pie and then found a table outside in the sun. After that, Jonathan had to head home but I took the chance for a short walk to see what’s happening in Kew at the moment.
It’s very much a crossover time between summer and autumn. The colours of summer were fading, petals dropping off flowers, while on the trees there were the beginnings of the change to autumn colours and the falling of leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs.
There was colour to be found still though. Kew are so great at planting out the beds near the Palm House and pots around the pond.
Perhaps more exciting were the gorgeous autumn crocuses that were in the woodland area.
In the rose garden behind the Palm House, the roses were past their best, but one could still find a perfect rose and the perfume was still magnificent.
In the Kew on a Plate kitchen garden, it was looking quite autumnal too, with plants grown huge and starting to fail. But there were still plenty of tomatoes waiting to ripen. Let’s hope the sun is willing to cooperate and shine long enough for them.
It is, of course, the season for pumpkins and they were looking ripe and ready to eat.
And if you want to take some colour home, there was a wonderful display of orchids in the Kew shop.
And even some Kew beer made by the local brewers, Twickenham Fine Ales.
I couldn’t help noticing a lot of people were wandering around wearing England rugby shirts. Locally, it’s hard to escape evidence of the Rugby World Cup tournament that’s been running for a week and goes on until 31 October, but I was slightly surprised to see it in Kew too! It reminded me that it might be a bit of a nightmare getting home if I left it late. I was also due at my lovely neighbours Sally and Simon’s wedding party … so it was time to go. Not quite the long walk I usually manage but I’m hoping that come October, the Gardens will be full of brilliant autumnal colours and I’m really looking forward to that.