With the shorter daylight hours that winter brings, every moment outdoors feels like a gift. Spending your time outside in beautiful surroundings, with friends or family, can make the moment even more precious.
If you’re looking to find some winter inspiration, there’s nowhere better to visit than the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Kew offers so much to its visitors at every time of year. During winter you might enjoy walking amongst the trees, or you may wish to quietly recharge your batteries by the lake. You can also visit the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, the Marianne North Gallery, and the sculptures created by Henry Moore and Eduardo Paolozzi, that reside in the gardens. With 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, Kew is a great place to explore.
If you’re interested in bees, you might want to visit The Hive, an immersive multi-sensory experience, which was installed at Kew earlier this year. The Hive was designed by Wolfgang Buttress, who was inspired by scientific research into the health of bees. The Hive has been designed to reflect the real time energy of a colony of bees residing in a beehive, located behind the scenes at Kew. Each moment you experience inside The Hive will be filled with the collective energy of the bees within Kew’s beehive.
Autumn and winter unclothe the leaves of deciduous trees, revealing the beauty of the trees’ architecture and displaying their bark and stature. There are around 14,000 trees at Kew, making this a great place to reconnect with nature, and relax in the serene, quiet, refined beauty that’s found at the start of winter.
If you or your children are interested in the Jurassic period, you might enjoy visiting the first ever Ginkgo biloba to be grown in Britain, this specimen was planted in 1762 by Princess Augusta at Kew gardens. Ginkgos, a favourite of herbal medicine, are a prehistoric tree species that grew during the time of the dinosaurs. Often referred to as a living fossil, it’s amazing that the Gingko has survived to give us an insight into the plants that grew on our planet one hundred million years ago.
Kew’s Holly Walk offers seasonal inspiration; if the weather’s chilly, warm up inside the Palm House, where you’ll find a wonderland of plants from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australasia, and other exotic locations, growing together inside this iconic glasshouse, the basement of which houses the Marine Aquarium.
The Princess of Wales Conservatory is home to real life water dragons, rare and diverse plant collections, including carnivorous, tropical and sub tropical plants. The lower level features viewing windows, showing the depths of the glasshouses’ pond, and the fish that reside there.
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is a magical place to visit at any time of year, but from the 23rd November 2016, until the 2nd January 2017 (exclusions apply – please check www.kew.org for details), Christmas at Kew offers visitors the chance to visit Kew after dark, where you’ll find the gardens lit up by a vast array of illuminations created by renowned lighting artists from across Europe. Along the mile long path that sparkles with light, you’ll find botanically inspired installations, alongside fire garden displays, and interactive experiences which make Christmas at Kew very special indeed.
Christmas at Kew also features vintage rides, Christmassy food and drinks, Santa and his elves. Tickets are available in advance, please visit www.kew.org for all the details.
This article was first published in the December 2016 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.
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