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Kew Gardens

While spending last week in Prague with our Boston neighbor Peggy Scott she strongly urged us to see Kew Gardens while we are in London.  We arrived back in London on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning we decided to walk the five miles to Kew Gardens. We walked directly to the Thames and then followed the north bank heading west through Hammersmith and Chiswick just enjoying the beautiful riverfront houses, gardens and rowing clubs.  It was a beautiful sunny day and Spring is in full bloom with so many interesting and new plants and flowers for us.  IMG_8024We were quite hungry when we reached the sweet hamlet of Kew so we stopped at a Pub called Tap on the Line because it abuts the Kew underground station.  We sat outside and ordered two pints, a salad and pie of the day.  

Two pints, pie of the day & salad.  Our soon to be friends are partially visible.

We soon found out that Tap on the Line is a favorite watering hole and true to our nature started chatting up three local blokes.  The conversation started by asking three questions about each other and guessing the answers.  Where are you from?  What do you do?  Why are you here?  It was quite fun and they were really good at the guessing.  We ended up joining them at their table.  Two of them were lawyers in oil and energy and the other was a local artist and also an Emmy award winning Visual Effects Supervisor for feature films.  One of the lawyers, Yanal, was a Palestinian who was born in Amman Jordan but educated in the UK.  He goes back to Jordan at least once a year.  We had a great discussion about Israeli/Palestinian politics.  The other lawyer, Thomas,  does a lot of work in Africa and was headed for Zambia the next day, he is married with three kids and hosts great parties like we do.  Tim, the artist, has a great website which is worth viewing as he has some great art.

Yanal, Tim, Jim, Sandy & Thomas.  Of course Yanal bought us a round of drinks.

Two hours later we shared the link to our blog and said farewell.  We then moved on to our original plan of the day which was to tour the Royal Botanical Kew Gardens which is now a UNESCO world heritage site.  There have been royal gardens here since 1759.  We entered the 326 acre garden through the Victoria Gate and headed directly to the tree top walkway climbing 18 meters high into a canopy of Lime, Sweet Chestnut and Oak trees that gave us a birds eye view of the gardens below.

Treetop walkway, look at the gorgeous sky.
Temperate house from the treetop walkway.

We then went to the temperate house, acclaimed to be the worlds greatest glass house.  It just re-opened four days ago after a five year renovation, how lucky are we.  It houses rare and threatened plants from all over the temperate zones of the world.  

Bird of paradise.

We next wandered various sections of the garden which included the Japanese Gateway and a magnificent display of azaleas where a beautiful peacock was taking a stroll.

Which one is the peacock?

We continued through the arboretum which stretches over the majority of the gardens and is a living library of trees with more than 14,000 botanical and ornamental collections.  

A very young, very small redwood.

Next we came upon the woodland path with an impressive array of spring bulbs.  Our favorite section of the garden was the Rhododendron Dell.  This was a massive display of exploding colors.  Our final stop was the hive, an amazing structure designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress.  It stands 17 meters tall and is surrounded by a wild flower meadow.  The hive is a unique multi-sensory experience of lights and sounds designed to simulate that of an actual bee hive.  This was a perfectly delightful day.  We did not walk home.

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