A Grand Day Out at Kew: The Temperate House to Parrots.
The Temperate House at Kew is the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world, covering 4,880 square metres and extending to 19 metres high.
According to Kew’s website, Kew director Sir William Hooker commissioned Decimus Burton to begin work on the glasshouse in 1859. With Victorian collectors bringing back ever more plant species from around the globe, Kew needed somewhere to house its growing collection of semi-hardy and temperate plants. The Temperate House was officially opened, unfinished, in 1863. Because costs had soared during construction, it was not completed for another four decades.
A few days before my tip to Kew, the temperate house was featured on BBC2 Gardeners World Programme. 7th April in which it was talked about how it would be closing to the public soon in-order to under go a full renovation which will cost around £34.3m and the restoration project is expected to be completed in May 2018.
I’ve been to Kew a few times over the years, but its odd, I have no memory of ever being in the Temperate House, it is located away from the main entrance, so perhaps I have never made it this far before and spent most of my time in the Palm House.
The Temperate House was a lot cooler and less humid than the Palm House, it also had an upper walkway around the roof which can be accessed by a staircase.
There was evidence of plants already being moved away to new locations before the renovation starts on a bigger scale, so there were lots of gaps and plants potted up ready for removal. Many of the plants will be relocated to the Evolution Glasshouse which is situated next door to the Temperate House, and this will be closed to the public as well for the duration of the renovation.
A wonderful, big, airy structure, that someone’s got to clean down and re-paint all the support structures.
There were many vents open during my visit so the Greenhouse climate was the same as the outdoor temperature. Very comfortable to be in, which was useful when up in the roof on the walkway.
It was interesting that this glasshouse not only did not have many visitors in it during my visit, but there were hardly any running and screaming children there. This of course pleased me no end. However there was ‘somewhere’ a very vocal Robin singing away. Perhaps he was part of the pest control programme.
During the episode of Gardeners World that I saw before my visit to Kew, one of the presenters showed how many of the Temperate House plants were being propagated before removal. The technique being used was called air layering, a method of propagating new trees and shrubs from stems still attached to the parent plant. The stem is wrapped with damp moss to encourage roots to form.
This was the air-layer Carol did to a Rhododendron on the programme.
A lot of thought has gone into preserving the plants as well as possible, not only for the move, but for the future.
I’m sure the Temperate House will look stunning when it’s renovated, I will be sure to try to pay it a visit when its re-opened.
After leaving the Glasshouse time was pressing before I had to pick up my coach back home, so I had a stroll over to the large metal tree-top walkway call the Xstrata Treetop Walkway. It appears there is an underground section called the Rhizotron, but judging by the noise coming from down there, I figured most of the kids in London where there, so I set off up 3 sets of stairs to see the view amongst the tree tops.
According to the information The Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway opened to the public in 2008 on International Biodiversity Day. It was designed by Marks Barfield Architects, who also designed the London Eye.
I only stayed up the walkway long enough to get my breath back, there were quite a few kids running around, or crying, so after strolling round the walkway I set off back down the steps, and slowly started heading back to my coach pick up point.
I had heard the famous Ring-Necked Parakeets all day in-between the Planes coming into Heathrow, but I had not been able to photograph any as they fly about a manic speed, I was once again thwarted on the walkway by a particularly loud howling child who scared a large flock away from a nearby tree.
I visited the gift shops on the way back to the gate, and bought a £2 fridge magnet.
I also came across the oldest tree in Kew on my stroll back.
Supposedly planted in the 18th Century and reputed to be the oldest Tree at Kew.
On my way back to the coach pick-up point I walked past Kew Palace.
I didn’t have time to pop inside or visit the Kitchen Garden, and I suspected as it was mid-April there might not be too much veg to see.
There was a Gentleman in Period costume in the entrance welcoming visitors indoors, however the illusion was marred slightly by his use of a mobile phone……..
Hang on, what’s that screeching noise overhead…..??
I managed to get the Telephoto Lens on my camera in quick time and snapped this little ‘noisy’ beauty.
I think they are nice to look at, but would not want them in my garden.!
So here endeth my day out to Kew 2013.
Lots of pictures were taken, but only a few were shown, thank you for sticking it out this long.
Disclaimer: No Children were harmed during my day out, although I got close to tripping a few up.