A Visit to Kew Gardens
As any rational person would, I have a fear of heights. It’s not an extreme fear - not a phobia, by any means, and it certainly wouldn’t deter me from seeking out a decent lookout point. When I reached the base of the Treetop Walkway in Kew Gardens, I looked up at the pathway above, assessed the height and determined that this was one I could easily withstand.
I thought back to that moment as I stood on the path with the wind swaying me ever so slightly from side to side. I moved away from the centre and gripped the side - just in case. Seemingly in a safer position, I allowed myself to look out at the view the Treetop Walkway offers - the tall forest canopy spread out around me. 18 metres in the air and with a view only the birds enjoy regularly, I felt so glad I made it up.
The Treetop Walkway is just one of many exciting experiences available at Kew Gardens. For any first time visitors, you’ll need a full day to see it all. If all you have is a few short hours, be sure to seek out these highlights.
The Princess Diana Conservatory
Several hothouses combine to form the Princess Diana Conservatory. A wide variety of cacti and succulents fill out most of the first room, with some truly impressive agave plants featuring as the room’s centrepiece. Move further along and you’ll venture into a tropical room, filled with mangroves, bromeliads and draping Jade Vine plants - the most naturally, bright blue flower you’ve ever seen.
The Waterlily House
It’s a small room but a winner for lovers of waterlilies. Walk around the circular path surrounding the central waterlily pond and admire the pops of white, pink and vibrant purple from all angles. Apart from the colourful waterlilies, you’ll see ferns, papyrus and hanging gourds in this petite glasshouse.
The Palm House
Brace yourself for humid heat inside the Kew Garden’s Palm House and be rewarded with canopies of luscious palms. Constructed in 1844 by Richard Turner, this Palm House became home to the species brought back to England by explorers after visiting the tropics - today, many of the plants found in this collection are endangered, while others are extinct in the wild. Take the spiral staircase up to the terrace walk - it’s even hotter up there but the view cannot be beat!
The Temperate House
There’s no excuse not to visit the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world when you’re at Kew Gardens, especially now that is has finally reopened after a five year closure for renovations. Make your visit now and you’ll enjoy this glasshouse while it’s sparkling clean and its 10,000 occupants are at their immature stage - in just a short time, these plants will flourish and consume all corners of this truly mammoth glasshouse.
The Sackler Crossing
Built in 2006, the Sackler Crossing provides access to some of Kew Gardens less visited areas. While the black granite walkway is certainly unique, it’s the walk to the Sackler Crossing and the sights you’ll see along the way that are particularly enjoyable. If you’re coming from The Palm House, you’ll pass through vibrant, manicured lawns - the perfect picnic spots - and broad Holm Oaks. From the Treetop Walkway, detour through the Cedar Vista (dotted with beautiful Atlantic and Deodar Cedars) and walk along the river, keeping your eyes peeled for local wildlife.