Winter at Kew village and Gardens --beauty, peace and quiet!

Kew Gardens in late winter
Some could say that late winter is not the best time to visit Kew Gardens, but after spending a day with my friend Karen there, I can strongly disagree.  Kew advertises that their winter garden alone has more than 33,000 plantings. And bonus, Kew this time of year is devoid of crowds, and is so quiet. You can hear the birds chirping, and possibly even the bulbs sprouting through the wet soil! 


Today, I'll take you on an adventure through the village and (some of) the gardens of late winter Kew! We will start at Kew Garden Station and cross under the tracks to the main village side.  Kew is on the District tube line.



Kew Gardens station is one of the few remaining 19th century stations. It opened on January first, 1869, and is the only tube station to have a pub attached to it! The Fuller's "Tap on the Line" pub was once the station's timber burning hall, and like many of the Fuller's pubs, it has retained its original charm, while offering incredible food and drink (we ate here for dinner one night and would come back any time!)

  

We start our walk through the village, which is so charming, with its local booksellers, groceries and small shops.  There are several restaurants in the village, including the Ma Cuisine Bistro, and the Michelin starred Glasshouse for more formal dining. 


We decide to start the morning right with breakfast at the amazing australian restaurant, Antipodea. Sorry for so many pictures, but I got carried away by the decor! For breakfast, try the avocado toast or the egg scramble, which are both amazing! lots of vegetarian options, too!







After having a delightful meal, we stop at the local Kew Gardener shop, where I ogle some lovely plants (which would be perfect for my yard in California....sigh!)  Cornus Albus Baton Rouge "minbat" , Cornus Flaviramon and Cornus Midwinter Fire--the tri-colors are stunning! Later, we see them on display at Kew Gardens--bonus!


Now we take the short walk to Kew Gardens, and lucky me, Karen has a membership that includes a guest pass!  

Kew Gardens is a massive park, comprising over 300 acres. It was founded in the early 1800's, and I came across this historic photo of the main Victoria Gate, and a letter from Queen Victoria "approving" of it. Both courtesy of Kew Archives.




As we enter through the Victoria Gate,  and among the first landmarks we see is a huge monolith,  The Lake and The Botanical Restaurant (great for afternoon tea, it is in a lovely setting facing the lake and the Palm House)




(in the background are the plants we saw at the shop earlier!)

Facing The Lake from the opposite side is the Palm House, a beautiful conservatory showcasing...(wait for it!)... Palms! and other tropical plants.   The Palm House is the iconic symbol of Kew Gardens, and every Christmas it is lit up as part of a fantastic water display.




I'm showing a photo from  "Christmas at Kew", because seriously, this light show alone is enough of a reason to be in London over the winter holidays!


Back to spring now... it's a beautiful day, and most surprisingly, we have this park to ourselves. The flowers are beginning to sprout, and the birds are chirping. It is just lovely.



We find our way to The Hive, a large outdoor installation created in 2015 by Wolfgang Butress, as a way of highlighting the extraordinary life of honeybees. There are 1000 lights within the hive, which flicker to vibrations, depending on how many people are inside and how actively they are moving. We are the only ones in the hive today, so the lights aren't flickering, but it is wonderous to be inside anyway! Plus, I'm pleased with the photos I got!




This is me laying down on the top of the hive! You can make out some of the 1000 lights.

Next up is the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which houses plants from 10 different climate zones within its glass structure.




Adjacent to the Princess of Wales Conservatory is the Davies Alpine House and rock gardens, home to those tender plants that thrive in the cold northern weather.





From here, we start back to the entrance, but not without a glance down Syon Vista, which gives you an idea of the scale of this park. 


I mentioned that Kew Gardens is massive, and one could very easily spend an entire day here and not see everything. Today, we were only able to bite off only the Southeastern 1/8th of the park

This is all that we covered today!

And last, before we leave, I offer you one last view, which I personally found hilarious. The park is under construction and there are several acres of dirt mounds in the southeast corner. Outside the fence is a statue of a gardener, leaning on a shovel. Someone had a great sense of humor in setting that statue in this particular spot! 


As we leave Kew Gardens, we can't help but to take a look inside the wonderful gift shop, and I had to steel my resolve to keep from sampling one of the lovely cakes.




As we begin our walk back to Kew Gardens Station, I'm thinking I might have to stop for a well-deserved cider 
at the Tap on the Line Pub!



PS: Look for my next post on the Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens, held every mid-February through mid-March!

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