I recently wrote about some of the best activities to do in London when the weather turns against you, and one of those included was spending some time in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, in London. The mention was fairly brief, and this attraction is absolutely worthy of a much more detailed look. I often say that London can be a bit difficult to cope with in the long term, and one of the ways I found to balance life there (with so much grey, concrete and commerce) was to visit beautiful and natural areas to reconnect with the natural world. Kew Gardens are absolutely the ideal place to do this! This is such a well protected and well cared for garden that it even has its own police force, called the Kew Constabulary.
Known as The Temperate House, this huge Victorian structure, made of glass and metal, is the central point of the gardens and probably the most emblematic structure in the area. It is also known as the Palm House, and has actually been closed for the last five years for renovations, but at the time of writing it has finally opened once again just a few days ago. The Palm House, unsurprisingly, contains towering palm trees, and they stretch up to almost 15 metres towards the high ceiling in the central area of the glass structure. There is also a nine metre high raised walkway so that visitors can walk around in the canopy of the trees and understand more about how they grow and live.
This 200 metre long, 18 metre high walkway takes visitors up into the trees. From here, the green and leafy world is a different place, and the height really helps you to have a completely different perspective on this verdant world.You will walk underneath the highest boughs and leaves of ancient chestnut trees, as well as the solid and powerful oak trees that have grown here for countless years. This walkway way built with 400 tons of steel and wood, and really is a beautiful and unique structure.
As well as showcasing the species that naturally occur in this part of the world, there is also the Davies Alpine House, which showcases plants that could never normally grow in such warm and wet conditions. In the Davies Alpine House, visitors can see all kinds of plants that normally grow at much higher and drier altitudes. The house is 16 metres long and 10 metres high, and features incredibly technological design features that pull in colder air and funnel out warm air. Creating this unnatural space must have been an incredibly difficult architectural and ecological challenge, but it's incredible that they dedicated the time and effort to showing what can be achieved.
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