The Kew Gardens were one of highlights of my entire trip. My huge interest in botany made this like a Disney park of plants for me. One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. To start off we walked as a full group to the encased palm house which contained various tropics plants from around the world. It was here that I showed a few friends this plant I actually have seen before that when you touch it’s leaves they close up almost immediately. After this we walked as a full group still to the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. This contained incredible works of botanical paintings that were all scientifically accurate. Our professor Regina Milan does amazing watercolored botanical paintings and it was interesting to see how various artists approached this genre. There were paintings that took up a large amount of space, seeing them in books made them look very detailed, but they actually had the least detail compared to other works. After about 40 minutes here (a place where pictures weren’t allowed) we proceeded to walk outside and head to the cafe. On our way there we were given a small lesson by a bench by Regina on how she approaches her botanical paintings and although it was optional we all stayed to listen. It was inspirational, as she usually is, and we stopped for a quick water break at the cafe.
Now that we were all on our own to see what we wanted for the day there were some decisions to be made. The groups were split on what everyone wanted to do but I drew a map and circled roughly 8 spots I wanted to go to and looked for anyone to be as enthusiastic as me lol. There was a lot of talk but no one was getting up so two of my close friends said they would go with me if we took 45 minutes because they wanted to go shopping. Little did they know this would take us 4 hours 🙂
So step one on the map was the treetop walkway! The map on the brochure was needless to say horrible because the roads didn’t actually match up to the signs or landmarks. After being lost a bit we made it there and took an elavator up with distorted glass that made us feel dizzy. The walkway swayed in the wind and we saw a skyline view of London in the distance. Fast forwarding and we got lost trying to go from here to the pagoda on the map. We ended up seeing a pond before turning around and eventually made it there.
So we learned the pagoda was being built still or repaired who knows, as can be seen in my picture. And that was a bit of a bummer but the small Japanese gateway house and rock gardens were a nice view. There were women feeding ducks and blocking mostly all the pictures though…
So next was the wildlife observation center! You can guess we got lost and I blame the map because there was 3 of us and I was not solely directing but I have been known to get people lost many times over this trip (It’s just my poor sense of direction). On our way there we passed the pine trees and redwoods and all these other trees I’ve never seen before. I must have taken pictures of ever species label I saw. We saw a sign that showed how big the giant redwoods could get in relation to the pagoda and they could reach a size of over twice as tall. The trees there were not nearly that height yet so I’ll find them one day. You can probably guess why this garden took us 4 hours but the size of it was actually very large and we walked for a long time to the northern area of the park. Once we got here we were somehow a good distance to the right of where we should’ve ended up. If I was a geographer I would remake their map accurately. But this detour took up to some cool little areas.
We climbed on a log obstacle course that had the species of free written into the wood. We saw a very interesting building that was closed. There was a giant badger den replication that you could crawl in that was pitch black. I crawled through it and ended up on the other side of a hill and had to regroup after. Then we found a woodland walk way that showed how the Forrest of London was in an untouched and sanctuary state. All of which was great to see but started to get tired and had half of the park to cover still!
Walking along the northern part of the map we couldn’t get lost right? Well we didn’t for once but we came to the rhododendron dell and the flowers were already mostly bloomed and fallen off. So this step on the map turned into the bamboo garden just below it. Tried to find the azalea garden and thought we were lost but turns out the flowers had bloomed and fallen off except a few orange and yellow ones. As I took a picture of the orange flower a giant bee almost attacked me so there’s no picture and we peaced out of there. Now I wanted to keep going but someone had to use the bathroom and we got hungry so we stopped at the treehouse towers for lunch (they were umbrellas). I had some sausage and mash potatoes and the next spot on the map was the climbers and creepers.
Fast forwarding again how did we get lost, I don’t know, but we were by the queens garden and had to turn around. I’m all excited to see what I think is a building full of vines. We find it next to where we ate and it was a little kids indoor playground! So needless to say we went back the way we came from and tried to find the herbarium library and archive of extinct plants (exciting stuff I know). This turned out to be by appointment only and we didn’t notice it in small font on the map. So we turned back around and walked along this giant flower walkway with bees chasing me the whole time. We saw this hive art installation but didn’t stop to look at it because we were exhausted and ready to go. Everyone from our trip had already left the garden but we saw the most!
The rest of the day was still fun but I won’t go into nearly that much detail. We went to a shopping area and saw a flea market styled building, and some interesting performances. In fact I was apart of a 20 minute long magic show where a man put a knife through my coat and fixed it with a paper clip. Although he accidently dropped the paper clip on the ground and it had the fake fuzz inside of it when it broke. We saw a violin band, my friends ate Nutella crepes and I was just eager to get back to the hotel before we had plans to go out. Once we got back I ate at this spot next to the Tower of London which became a sort of go to spot if we needed a cheaper(ish) fast meal. I may have rested a little bit but as usual 515 was next spot and we went as a decent sized group to a club that night.
Now we had the hackathon the next day and some people were worried and hesitant about it and this night was about releasing worries and to just have a good time. It was one of the best bonding nightba as we all danced on the dance floor and completely owning this central stage before a decent amount of people actually showed up. What was supposed to be us leaving at 12:30am turned into us leaving at 1am then 2am. But we were all on time and ready for the next day afterwards!