Sunday, July 27, 2008

Royal Botanic Gardens

Today we finally made it to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, better known as Kew Gardens. The gardens are 300 acres of beautiful trees. There are some flower gardens, but the trees are the stars of the show here. Many are well over 200 years old, and the oldest tree, a sweet chestnut tree, is over 300 years old.

Here are the girls next to the trunk of an oak tree that was planted in 1846. Amazingly, the sign said that this tree was moved to its present location when it was 70 years old! I can hardly imagine what it would take to move a mature oak tree with today's equipment. I wonder how they did it in the 1920s!

Here's a shot looking up into the branches of the same tree. Wouldn't it make a great climbing tree?

Here's a really interesting tree. From a distance, it looks like it might be some kind of pine.

Let's get a little closer, though. It is a conifer, but the branches almost look like some kind of cactus and are very spiny and stiff. Here's what they look like. Its common name is monkey puzzle. Very cool.

There was also a treetop walkway. It's 18 meters up to the walkway, and it goes around a roughly triangular path. The floor under your feet is perforated metal, so that you can see the ground below. The entire walkway sways a bit with all of the people on it. It's a little bit freaky to walk on. I can now say with certainty that I will never ever be going on that glass walkway over the Grand Canyon!

And lest you think we didn't see any flowers at the gardens, here are some for you. There were lots of fuchsias in the greenhouses.

We also took a tour of Kew Palace, which is inside Kew Gardens. The palace was the home of King George III. The ground floor has been restored to look like it did in George's time. The other two floors, though, have been largely untouched for 200 years. There were a couple of places where the walls were open so that you could see all of the layers of building materials used, such as plaster made from lime and horse hair.

Here is a photo of a beautiful garden, taken from the top floor of the palace.


Kathy said...

Amazing pics! It seems like you all are having a wonderful time there.

Debbie Olson said...

Chris, I found your blog because I was linking once again to your nuggets post on SCS. :-D I've been to Kew Gardens twice and think it's fabulous! I'm so glad that you got to go there! I don't remember that glass walkway, so I wonder if it's recent? Have fun in Paris!

... Paige said...

I enjoyed looking at these photos. The tree you called interesting and maybe a Pine is called a Monkey Tree, I don't know the true botanical name, it if native to Chile. From what I understand its roots are very invasive. But my beloved and I love the look they have from a distance and have seen them in Ireland and here in Texas.