Over the Bank Holiday weekend I went to stay with my sister Chloe in London and with a beautifully sunny Sunday ahead of us, we decided to make a trip to Kew Gardens.
London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have the biggest and most diverse collection of plants in the world. I hadn’t been to Kew since I lived nearby as a child, and I was excited to return. I’d recommend buying your tickets online before you get there like we did, especially if you’re visiting during peak times, as they’re not only cheaper but it meant that we managed to skip the queues.
With 326 acres to explore, we started off at the Palm House, Kew Gardens’ iconic Victorian glass conservatory. A breath-taking and elegant exterior, inside the glass house you’re transported to a tropical rainforest with its steamy, humid climate. There are so many amazing exotic plants to see at ground level and you can climb the stairs to quickly walk amongst the palm trees, before you get too hot and sticky!
To the side of the Palm House you can find the much smaller Waterlily House where in the summer the pond is home to giant waterlilies and beautiful lotus flowers.
Next we discovered the Princess of Wales Conservatory which contains 10 different environments for cacti, carnivorous plants, ferns etc. If you’re lucky you might spot one of the Chinese Water Dragons that roam freely on the rocky terrain but they were hiding on Sunday!
Strolling through the Kitchen Gardens with its abundance of ripe seasonal fruit and vegetables made us hungry so we headed back to the Orangery via the Great Broad Walk for lunch. The Orangery itself is a stunning 18th century building with high-ceilings and huge arched windows.
The cafe serves everything from fresh salads to yummy cakes; many people were enjoying a Sunday roast, which looked tasty but it was far too hot for a big meal so we opted for a falafel wrap each and found a sunny spot on the grass outside.
Feeling reenergised we walked back down the Great Broad Walk and admired the flowers in the borders, which are at their most beautiful in summer. Just off the Broad Walk you can find The Hive, a new multi-sensory installation set in a wild flower meadow. An impressive metallic structure, The Hive highlights the extraordinary life of bees with lights and sounds triggered by the activity in a real beehive at Kew.
Having only explored a small section of Kew Gardens, we went further afield into the vast Arboretum where there is a Treetop Walkway. 18 meters above ground, you can climb the steps to walk through the canopy. As we were wearing dresses and the walkway floor is see-through, we didn’t think people below would appreciate the view, so we gave it a miss this time! I did do the Treetop Walkway last time I visited and the views of the gardens and Greater London are spectacular so it’s worth doing if you’re wearing appropriate clothing!
After walking around the big lake in the Arboretum, we headed back to the entrance via the wonderfully fragrant Rose Garden behind the Palm House. We blended in with the roses in our matching/clashing flowery dresses from Mango (you can find Chloe’s here and mine here). If you can’t wear a pretty floral dress on a sunny day at Kew Gardens then when can you?!
Surrounded by nature, you completely forget that you’re actually in suburbs of London at Kew Gardens. I’d never seen Kew Gardens in the height of summer before and it was buzzing with insects and bright colours. Kew Gardens has something to offer in every season and I’d like to go back in autumn when the trees turn into a sea of reds and oranges.
Really easy to get to on the district line, Kew Gardens is a peaceful paradise away from the hustle and bustle and the perfect place to wind down after a stressful week.