In the Hot House

Words by Jessica Peace

Entry to Kew is just over a tenner during winter; so get through those gates and get warm in the glasshouses.

The Princess of Wales Conservatory. This massive greenhouse is home to ten different climate zones including, ‘Dry Tropics’, ‘Wet Tropics’, ‘Orchids’ and ‘Carnivorous’. Whilst warming up and getting accidently misted in the orchid you will stumble across Mangroves, Agave, Aloe, Cacti and my personal fave corner dedicated to Madagascar (will I ever get there?!).

Back to the roots; you will find many a species we have domesticated and put in our own gaffs in their natural (almost) environment. As I walked into the ‘Carnivorous’ zone, I understood why my Nepenthes did not survive the curtain rail.

The Palm House. Be prepared to get a sweat on. This Victorian glasshouse is a looker in its own right but as soon as I opened the door (drenched in condensation) I was ready to knock back an Umbongo, don my coconut bra, and rub up against a banana tree – there are bananas in here!!!

And Ylang-ylang, Black Pepper, Ebony, Coco de Mer, Ginger, and the largest cone in the world – this is Kew, when they say ‘in the world’ you can trust ’em.

More indoor: There is also an alpine house by Princess Di to check out and Kew’s Art Galleries. Kew has two main galleries on site, the Shirley Sherwood Gallery and the Maria North Gallery. The Shirley Sherwood Gallery contains loads of Botanical Illustrations and temporary installations. Currently Rebecca Louise Law’s, ‘Life in Death‘ fills (no exaggeration) one of the galleries with cut flowers hanging from ceiling to floor and ‘dying’ in front of the gallery goer. It is truly, truly beautiful.

The Marianne North Gallery is wall to wall North’s botanical paintings from her expeditions around the world in the 1800s, blimey. Apparently North had wanted tea and coffee to be served to visitors, like her style; however, when this was rejected North painted coffee and tea plants over two of the doorways.

Venturing outside. If you do fancy braving the cold these parts are just as striking in the winter, Syon Walk, The Mediterranean Garden and The Queen’s and Kitchen Garden. Tree heads you have to get outside there are some MIGHTY specimens.

How much?

Bang for your buck.

Between £10 -13

Nearest tube/ train?

Kew Bridge/ Kew Gardens

When can I get in?

Open daily

10am – 3.30pm

Kew currently has ‘Christmas at Kew’, their ‘after-dark’ festival.

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