Last year, I spent five months living just north of London from January until May. Last year also seemed to be a particularly cold winter for the southeast of England, and my wussy Pacific Northwest manner could not cope. On one of the coldest days in March, I took the train down to Richmond to meet my aunt for an afternoon at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.
Despite a lack of sunshine and a miserable misty rain outside, I found great joy wandering through the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Upon entering this greenhouse full of warmth, I was surprised to see succulents, cacti, and a stunning array of orchids. I was even surprised to learn about a hidden time capsule planted in the conservatory, put together by Sir David Attenborough, that holds seeds of endangered species and other basic crops. The capsule is being held until 2085, when many of these seeds may be rare or possibly extinct! Hard to imagine our world that far in the future, but it is nice to know someone is thinking ahead.
The gardens at Kew are host to the world’s largest collection of living plants, with over 30,000 different varieties. Although the weather kept me mainly confined to the indoor collections, warmer days would provide a great opportunity to learn more about plants and the botanical research undertaken on the 121 hectare site. I would love to spend a Sunday enjoying tea at the Orangery and then take part in one of the many educational programs or tours. Sadly, Vancouver is too far for a weekend jaunt but I’ll be sure to make another visit next time I’m across the pond!