Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Springwatch IV: Kew
Better keep my word and roll out the last of the mid-spring photos from my river rides over a week ago (how quickly it's all changing - most of the blossom has blown away in the weekend blusters). The second trip took me to an old haunt, Kew Gardens, rather forsaken recently for the Chelsea Physic Garden, though I'm still a 'friend' with wadges of unused passes. Strictly speaking the two gardens are incomparable and the Royal Botanics have to be the most spectacular in the world, in terms of species though probably not setting (how blissful it must have been during the days of the ashcloud when no planes roared directly over the palm house).
So this meant going beyond the Chiswick stretch past the brewery by Richmond Bridge
and alongside the sewage farm, now nestled among otherwise desirable riverside residences. So to Kew. Apart from the bluebells and the magnolias
most of the great flowerings are indoors: a nymphea in the small palm house
and gems in the relatively new Alpine House, including the ranunculus asiaticus
and tulipa saxatilis.
Hopefully a few specimens like this will reveal themselves in the mountains of Georgia; I can hardly wait. In the rock garden just beyond, peonies are beginning to flower. The weirdest is paeonia tenufolia with its ferny foliage.
On, then, past a forest of sprouting ferns
and a spin around the lake, the late afternoon sun casting rare light on the distant palmhouse and gunnera shooting up in the foreground
before I headed up to the orchards around the temperate house and then out at twilight. That was the perfect time for the early budding of my favourite tree, the copper beech.
Last weekend we saw an even more spectacular specimen in the garden of Norham Road. Already the leaves are losing their early shade, though what replaces it is almost as beautiful. I feel a 'trees of Oxford' rhapsody coming on.