Monday, April 09, 2007

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew

Finally managed to get to Kew Gardens yesterday, (home of the largest living plant collection in the world), and I had the joy of watching the man I love walk slow and smiling amongst acres of flowers. My Ferdinand the Bull. He kept wandering off the wide paths and pulling me towards magnolias, pear and apple and plum blossom trees; with their slim branches smothered in pale flowers they reminded me of graceful brides. The tree we fell in love with is a plum blossom tree; we could not stop taking pictures of it. Now the screensaver on my phone is white-flowered branches, bright against a blue sky.

Van Gogh caught blossom best of all, and the picture you see above is almond blossom branches, painted in 1890 for his new born nephew, named after him. We have a reproduction on our wall at home, like millions of other people. We go and look at the real thing in Amsterdam every year
Today I found out that plum blossoms stand for courage and hope in China, bursting on bare branches at the end of winter.

The daisies were out underfoot, the bluebells just starting in the woods. Golden pheasants scuttled in rhododendron bushes, coal tits and robins made a merry racket, children cartwheeled on the grass. Inside the glasshouses were rainforests and palms, huge ferns and tropical trees, the smell of things growing fast in the humid air. I loved the glass cases of orchids, and the little frogs coloured like Tiffany glass ornaments, and the verdigris-coloured lizards - little dragons, watchful and dignified, balancing on branches, gazing at us.

There were tropical fish and cold-water rays, later we walked past pools where fat bewhiskered carp swam and lily pads spread. I heard people speaking a dozen different languages, all of them happy to find themselves reminded of the beauties of the gardens, and the forests of Earth.
(I'm having a short break from writing about politics and terrorism; I'm enjoying the Spring holiday. I hope you are too)


Anonymous seth said...

hi rachel,

isnt today "easter monday" in the UK and is a national holiday with offices,stores,etc all closed?

i dont remember if i went to the royal gardens; i think i was too busy getting drunk at some pub in hamnmersmith and singing,"its a long way to tipperary" :):):)


April 09, 2007 8:36 pm  
Blogger Leighton Cooke said...

Dear darling Rachel, spring is in the air and we should all enjoy it. So go for it!

April 09, 2007 9:38 pm  
Blogger Debi said...

Kew is wonderful - but so expensive! For us to go as a family of 4 is beyond a joke.

When I was a kid I can remember having to pay a token entry of fee of one old penny!

April 10, 2007 1:08 pm  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Rachel, sent here by JoeinVegas, wanted to let you know that I loved the pictures and I think you are very brave and strong after dealing with everything you have dealt with. I wish you many more days filled with beauty.

I wish I could have seen the frogs. Oh, well, one more place I need to go when I finally get to England.

April 10, 2007 6:02 pm  
Anonymous Carolyn said...

I want a golden pheasant! That must be one of the prettiest birds on the planet. Very cute.

April 11, 2007 4:09 am  
Blogger ChrisJ said...

I love that painting by Van Gogh! I don't think I've seen it before. Since I am now retired, it's great to find things to explore that I never had time for before.

I'll be in Leicestershire and Yorkshire in early June and can't wait to see the daisies, bluebells and hawthorn. They were magnificent last year. It's too bad I miss the snowdrops and daffodils! I love our weather but I do miss the English countryside -- flowers and birds, heather and lavender. But you can't have both I suppose. We have spectacular flower fields and vivid colored ice plant, but English wild flowers are so much more delicate.

April 11, 2007 9:45 pm  
Blogger Clare said...

Sounds like you had a lovely Easter weekend Rachel and more warm weather to enjoy this coming weekend. Doesn't it make a change for our bank holiday to be such fab weather?

April 11, 2007 11:35 pm  
Blogger El Dave. said...

Kew is a lovely place, indeed...

April 13, 2007 3:45 pm  
Anonymous Ellee said...

I;m a big nature lover too, don't blame you for enjoying the spring sunshine.

April 17, 2007 9:13 pm  
Blogger Alpha said...

I,m a Chinese girl,I laughed so hard.

April 23, 2007 4:58 pm  
Blogger Dr. Deb said...

Must have been so lovely there.

April 23, 2007 9:48 pm  
Anonymous Maria said...

Where have you gone? Are you lost in Kew Gardens???

April 26, 2007 12:19 am  
Blogger ChrisJ said...

Miss you! Are you perhaps wrapped up in wedding preparations? I hope that's it. Come back to us soon.

April 27, 2007 9:48 pm  
Blogger Clare said...

Hey Rachel

Hope you are doing okay and enjoying the nice weather. Please post again soon.

April 28, 2007 1:00 pm  
Anonymous IainC said...

Anyone else concerned about the interval since this last post ?

I know Rachel said she would be working on the proofs for the book, but it's been a three weeks now and I'm just wondering if there's anything more serious (she surely would be able to post a quick line or two even if very busy, wouldn't she ?). Hope not.


April 29, 2007 1:35 am  
Blogger Jag said...

Congratulations Rachel. Kew Gardens is lovely at this time of year.

May 01, 2007 9:00 am  

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