Having not seen one of my friends for nearly a year, we decided to have a day out in London. I had seen advertising for the artist Vaughn Bell’s installations at Kew Gardens and that looked interesting so we booked tickets. Unfortunately, it was during a week when we had nothing but rain in London so we cancelled. I have to applaud Kew Gardens in that you can cancel your tickets up to 24 hours beforehand and get a full refund not many venues will let you do that. A week later we decided to try again and I went on line to re-book. Unfortunately, in just 7 days the prices had gone up by £2 a ticket which was a bit disappointing! (£17 for a senior and £19.50 for my slightly younger friend). However, the weather was kind to us so we started walking around Kew and seeking out the installations that we had especially wanted to see. There are seven of these installations, Sand Dune, Moorland, Marsh and Meadow, Hedgerow, Woodland and Green Roofs. The first one we came to was Hedgerow and to be quite honest this was supposed to “connect people more deeply with plants” but it was rather like standing in my own garden with my own bushes around me. The Marsh and Meadow installation was nicer, lots of wild flowers on raised wooden beds but walking around these I did not feel that I was “understanding more about plant ecosystems” as the brochure told me I would! The other installations we saw (we missed out a couple) were nice but not as exciting as we had expected. Overall we thought that Kew in general looked a little tatty and sad on this visit. One really interesting feature is The Hive. a multi sensory experience that reveals the secrets of the honeybee. That is well worth a visit. The Palm House and The Temperate House were as I remembered them but not hugely colourful or interesting.
After a lot of walking we decided to get something to eat and most of the food seems to be served from kiosks at the moment. However The Orangery had a more varied menu listed. Unfortunately, the only veggie thing on the menu, quiche, had all gone so we had to settle for a sandwich. Afterwards we visited The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art where there was an exhibition “Naturally Brilliant Colour”. To be honest this was a little too complicated for us. Four galleries took us through “Bio-inspiration”, “A kaleidoscope of nature’s colours”, “Pollia” (micro-technology using extremely small pieces of colour) and other similarly brain aching descriptive exhibitions! It rather went completely over my head I am afraid.
So our trip to Kew was a little disappointing. At the moment it is more like a park than a garden (and I can walk in a park without paying £17 to do so!). I hope this is just because they have been closed for so long and I hope they soon return to their former glory but the Plantscapes installations are not really exciting enough to warrant a visit.