A very green year

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-08-06 10:43:26

A very green year

[Photo/Courtesy of Visit Britain]

Most people could make a long list of must-see sights in England, especially London. For me, heading to the UK this year meant realizing a particular dream: Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

I've been a "plant nut" for most of my life, and for a fan of beautiful gardens, the English garden has a unique appeal.

The phrase "English garden" means serenity. A scrum of ivy climbing a cottage wall. Masses of tiny Canterbury bells in spring, and great spikes of hollyhocks in summer. A cup of tea outdoors. The English garden is Downton Abbey and Miss Marple and old-school ties all rolled into one package of utter charm.

The British tourism agency has declared 2016 to be the Year of the English Garden, and Kew is one of the highlights for any visitor with an eye for horticulture or landscape design.

Kew is the oldest and most famous botanical garden in the world, created in 1759. The UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts impressive historical buildings and glasshouses bursting with tropical plants. The vast grounds are enticing year-round, anchored with trees that knew King George III personally, and breathtaking landscapes with plants showing their best color in different seasons. There are lakes and ponds-with swans, of course, connected by walking paths to historical buildings. The Princess of Wales Conservatory is electric yellow this month, bedecked in the summer blooms of allamanda, and the wildflower meadow teems with bee-seeking blossoms.

You can visit to see what's in bloom at the time you want to travel, plus events, activities for kids and an interactive garden map.

If you're a sketch artist or painter, you'll want to put on light, comfortable clothes for the slightly steamy Waterlily House. This famous glass structure features waxy beauties in white, yellow, pink and purple, so loved by artists who are entranced by nature. Some of the South African lily pads are the size of small boats. The Waterlily House is good for an hour of gawking by itself, and if you don't get enough waterlily magic, the gift shop has lovely postcards and gift items that feature those popular views.

The gift shop is a destination of its own, with souvenirs ranging from porcelains, linens, amazing orchids, teas, cosmetics and fragrances made from plants in the garden-most are custom-made for Kew.

Kew Gardens is an easy detour between the heart of London and Heathrow airport, so we found it convenient to schedule a stop there on the last day of our London trip. Kew is very near the village of Richmond, where there are quaint bed-and-breakfast options, good restaurants and lively pubs.

Previous Page 1 2 3 4 5 Next Page

Editor's Picks
Hot words

Most Popular