There it is something special about the English gardens: in addition to the beauty, rich vegetation and geometry of the alleys, at the end of almost every visit, it is something new I learn about history, geography or arts. I find the German parks unexpectedly chaotic and the French ones too romantic, regardless of the occasion. The English gardens are for simple people like me in love with learning in the shortest possible time as much as possible.
Exactly one week ago, I was visiting for the first time the Kew Gardens where I spent more than three hours admiring flowers from all over the world and learning about spices and types of trees. After every glasshouse we visited - due to the high temperatures, it was not always very easy to resist the extra heat inside and I left some places for a next time - we stopped for a little while on a bank to have a fruit snack or to rest before the next destination. The distance between places of interest could be of around 15 minutes, but especially the last Sunday, there were a lot of people around so being able to see everything takes more time than usual.
I enjoyed the Palm House and the rich vegetation of the tropical rainforests and spent more time than usual at the Waterlily House trying to learn more about the origin of spices. The cacti area was another favourite of mine, but did not feel as I am in the middle of the desert, as a fast squirrel run from a part of the street to another and did not stop till she reached the top of the next tree. After visiting the London Aquarium the local collection of fish was a bit disappointing, but was a good opportunity to move fast forward to the next green corner. Such as the oldest Corsican pine in England, that reminded me a lot of my wonderful 1 week of hiking in Corsica a couple of summers ago.
For more organized people and with a cleared agenda, there are many activities taking places at the Gardens, including talks and courses summer programmes, movies projected at the open-air cinema and cookery demonstrations at the Kew Palace. The Palace, the smallest of English royal palaces built in the 18 century, can be visited at no extra charge. The children will enjoy the 'climbers and creepers' space, an interactive area where they can wriggle through tunnels and slide down a giant pitcher plant. I will recommend a full day at the Gardens. There are also a couple of restaurants as well as enough spaces for pick nicks if you are brave enough to carry the basket with goodies with you!
Boats are available to rent, but as usual, I rather prefer to walk on firm land than to put my non-existent navigation qualities at trial. The souvenir shop offers not only many interesting books about gardening and healthy cooking, but also beautiful flowers to buy - orchids and cacti mostly. For a complete tour of the Gardens, mini-cars are available, but I wanted rather to return in the foreseeable future than to see everything at once. Expect more Kew Gardens posts soon!