I’ve been busy with my job as a freelance book editor but a bit of serendipity was in play when I found that a short break while waiting for a new job to arrive coincided with the forecast of a sunny day. There was really only one thing to do: book an entry slot at Kew Gardens. Since the pandemic, even as a Friend of Kew Gardens (which I’ve been for over 30 years!), I have to book a slot to go in rather than just turn up as I used to. This is to control the number of people there.
I haven’t been much during the winter – I’m a summer person and you won’t catch me going to a walk in cold, wet winter weather. Even in beautiful Kew Gardens. But I have been there a couple of times recently as the weather has warmed up a bit and the days grown longer, and a couple of weeks ago the spring bulbs were exploding and looking great. By last Friday when I went back with grandson Freddie, they were already dying down. So it’s definitely an ‘in between’ phase; that lag between winter and spring. But Kew is lovely whatever time you go (see my A Year in Kew Gardens). Though not at their best now, the sight of the golden daffodils and some purple and white crocuses sitting amid trees is a wonderful thing to see, filled with the promise of renewal.
I’d entered by Lion Gate, a smaller gate at the southernmost part towards Richmond. It’s quieter and takes you into the slightly wilder part of the gardens and to the pagoda, where your eyes are irresistibly drawn to look up into the sky at its top.
Although there wasn’t much colour, the sky was a brilliant clear blue and I saw some interesting things, like this Coriaria tree.
I started to make my way across the gardens, passing the recently renovated Temperate House.
And finally came to the Palm House. The flowerbeds outside are always beautifully planted with whatever is in season, thus now full of spring flowers.
From there you can take a look across the large pond towards the Woodland Garden, which is where I headed to next.
I walked up the slope to the Temple of Aeolus, enjoying the slightly wild feel to the area with bulbs springing up in the grassy areas.
Moving on I passed a glorious large clump of Hellebores and later came to a magnolia tree just starting to blossom.
I made my way to the lake where there are plenty of benches to sit down on and enjoy a peaceful, tranquil time by the water.
After a pleasant few minutes of calm, I walked by the side of the lake until I came to the Sackler Crossing (bridge) that never fails to delight me with its wonderfully pleasing curved shape. It was quiet, as you can see, one advantage of living so close and being able to go midweek.
The view from the bridge:
And looking back across the lake to the bridge as I walked on back towards the Lion Gate.
I passed more trees coming into blossom: the yellow a Cornelian Cherry; the pink a prunus, a Japanese maple.
And it was the Japanese Gateway I was heading to, another peaceful spot, bringing all that Japanese garden calm effect to the area.
Then it was a short walk back past the Pagoda again and out through the Lion Gate to my car and home. I’d walked a couple of miles; been in the gardens just over an hour. A great advantage of living so close is that I use it much like a local park for a walk. But what a ‘local park’ – the most famous botanical gardens in the world!
The afternoon was busy. With schools back, I’m back on ‘Nonna Duty’, picking Freddie (6) up from school a couple of days a week and having him at my house for a while before taking him home. When it came to my supper, it was to a large extent using what was available – and I need to go shopping! But I’d taken some raw tiger prawns from my freezer a bit earlier and thought I’d make a risotto. And I threw in a few peas. And as I was stirring, I remembered the fantastic prawn and saffron risotto I had in Nice back in September 2019 – so a good pinch of saffron went in too.
Supper may not have been the result of much planning and effort, but it was gorgeous. A really lovely end – with a glass of chilled Chapel Down Bacchus – to a lovely sunny day: sunshine, the gardens, spring flowers, the company of a delightful grandson, and a delicious supper. What more could one ask for?