Kew Gardens and Chihuly

We’ve visited Kew Royal Botanical Gardens perhaps four other times. Each time is a different experience due to the seasons and the plants, trees and flowers in bloom at the time. The primary focus of today’s visit was the exhibit by artist Dale Chihuly.

Kew Royal Botanical Gardens is located in the small town of Kew, about an hour by Underground from where we were located in a London. To get there is not difficult, but did require changes at three different stations and Underground lines. Getting around London and the suburbs generally is not difficult and you can plan your travel using Google or Apple maps, as well as one of our favorites, City Mapper. Be sure to plan out your travel before you go underground in case you don’t have connectivity on your cell phone!

We pay for our travel using either the TFL Oyster card or “contactless” payment credit cards (Visa/AMEX, MasterCard) that seem to be becoming more prevalent. Not every card is contactless though; look for the symbol. You get charged based on the length of your journey, beginning when you “tap in” and ending when you “tap out “.

Kew’s rail station is small. Outside the station is lined with small local shops.

From here it’s a short walk (1/2 mile?) straight down the street from the station to Kew Gardens. We bought tickets online before we left so once we entered the main gate, the tickets were scanned and we went directly into the park, no standing in the big line! Being Saturday, we expected it to be more crowded, and it definitely was.

As I mentioned, every visit to Kew is different due to the season and the plants and trees.

Autumn is coming!

This trip was mainly to see the glass art of Dale Chihuly , which are placed throughout the gardens in about a dozen locations. There is also an exhibition center that displayed a number of his smaller pieces. The outside exhibition pieces are large; some are placed inside several of the permanent buildings of Kew along with the permanent horticultural exhibits, but most are free standing.

Kew Gardens is large, encompassing 326 acres, 27,000 living plant specimens from all over the world. They also maintain a seed bank to preserve species threatened by extinction. Plants range from tiny to enormous. The centennial oak we saw was planted in 1773 and is still thriving.

On to the Chihuly exhibits.

These are all blown glass sculptures.

Temperate House

There is an elevated walkway around the Temperate House.

Glass sculpture hanging from roof of Temperate House

Ethereal White Persian Pond in the water lily house

Sculptures in Japanese Garden

The Palm House (tropical plants)
Landscaping in front of the Palm House is always gorgeous
Summer Sun

There are a number of other structures, including a tree top walkway and a Chinese Tower

but we only really only had time to walk the grounds in search of the Chihuly exhibits. We encountered a bit of wildlife along the way.

Despite the cloudy weather , we’ve had no rain at all.

Now that it’s after 3pm, realizing we have not had lunch, we’re going to head out of the Garden and down the street to Maids of Honour for afternoon tea, Maids of Honour (tarts) and scones.

Maids of Honour (lower tray), scones, clotted cream upper tray

We’re ready now to head back to the Kew station, walking back along the side streets littered with the beginnings of fall’s leaves and the empty husks of horse chestnuts.

The track at the Kew station is pretty full with others waiting for the next train to head back to the city. Retracing our route back, changing stations and lines brings us from the quiet little village of Kew to the bustling station at Marble Arch.

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