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Archive for the ‘conservatory’ Category

When we first moved to London, we became members of Kew gardens.  This was perfect for us, being obsessed with gardens and indoor plants.  We got free entry plus guest tickets that we could use to take visitors and house guests.  After visiting many times, we got restless and ten years ago we moved on to join the RHS.  Wisley replaced Kew as our regular haunt for days out.  Then after years of Wisley, we moved on again and joined the National Trust.  This allowed us to go to some superb country gardens round the country like Sissinghurst and Scotney Castle in Kent, and Cotehele and Anthony in Cornwall.

Now we’ve decided the rotation has come back to Kew.  Wow, what a decision.  In the ten years I had forgotten just how much I love Kew gardens, and how much I’ve missed it.  It’s like meeting up with a much loved old friend and being delighted to find that you still have so much in common.

For a start, the sheer diversity of habitats and growing conditions means that they can fully represent the planet’s flora.  It’s just mind-blowing that one minute you are in a tropical rainforest and then when you go through a door you’re in an amazing desert.

We literally travelled the planet in a day.  The most varied glasshouse in terms of plants is the modern styled Princess of Wales Greenhouse, which to my mind contain most of the interesting specimens. There is a huge range of both temperate and tropical plants, including some of the biggest and oldest cacti in cultivation, carnivorous plants, and a large collection of orchids.

I think Kew preceded the Eden project by displaying “plants for people”, and they have such plants alongside information about how they are used by humans.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the chocolate plant for obvious reasons.

The large range of environments and plants makes this my favourite glasshouse.

However, for sheer beauty of construction, you can’t beat the Victorian glasshouses.  They house impressive specimens from all the continents of the world.  You can also go upstairs and view the plants from the “rooftop”.

There are some wonderful plants to look down on:

Some of the plants look more impressive from below:

Some of the outdoor plants are just as exciting as the indoor ones.  I was particularly thrilled to get the following pictures of ferns unfolding:

There’s a traditional walled garden, which for me is enhanced because every single plant is marked, so you can take note if you want to get one for your own garden.

All in all a plantswoman’s paradise.

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I  sometimes think I should change the name of this blog to the Lazy Gardener, (watch this space actually….)  My gardening efforts have been regularly rescued from disaster by my husband, a well timed shower of rain (thank you British climate, I could never survive anywhere else!), the sheer persverance of nature and sometimes just pure luck.

It is now on the brink of May and I have so far done absolutely NOTHING towards this season’s crops.  And although there is part of me that feels terribly guilty, there is also a part of me that knows that in the UK, this doesn’t really matter.  Not terribly much growth happens earlier than now, except indoors, and there are always plenty of crops you can get in.

So, my saving graces this year have been:

My amazing darling husband who has been keeping the plot mowed and ‘sort of’ weeded.  He loves his perennials like asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb, so at this time of year he is there more often than me.  I do look after the kids meanwhile, so perhaps I am doing my bit?

The fact that someone tipped me off about the tradition of sowing potatoes on Good Friday.  Inspired by this folk tradition we sowed them Good Friday morning before the heavy thunderstorms of the afternoon.

Also, hubby has been planting his crops of the year, cherry tomatoes (he’e gone for Gardener’s Delight) and butternut squash, as well as some rocket.

As for now, I am frantically sowing sweet peas and beans.  I am also setting up a herb and salad box outside my back door, now we have a space with some light at the house.  I am planting lots of flower seeds accumlated over the last year.  Hoping for a good year of flowers for the house.  And I have bought some fabulous perennials for the garden.  All very exciting.

The lemon tree at the top of the post is now in our conservatory.  After many, many, many years we have got a conservatory which means we can grow citrus plants and indoor bananas.  There really is no way to express how exciting this is for us.  Twelve years ago, Jamie and I lived in a small flat with a huge south facing window from ceiling to floor.  The whole of our very small living space was filled with tropical and indoor plants of many types.  For the last ten years we have watched our once impressive indoor plant collection dwindle.  We still have one hardy yucca and a Musa Cavendish banana from this era, being kept alive in a greenhouse at Jamie’s work.  After a very long wait, they can finally come home!

And now as I sit down for my evening scan of everyone’s blogs, I fully expect to get lots of inspiration for this year. It’s time to put the knitting down and get outside!!!!

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