Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday 4 May 2009

Kew views

When it's May Bank Holiday Saturday and it's sunny and warm, the day deserves to be used for something special . . .

A walk through a beautiful bluebell wood perhaps?

But this isn't just any bluebell wood, it's the bluebell wood in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew – isn't it spectacular! The English wildflowers certainly put on a show to compete with all the exotic glories of Kew Gardens.

The main purpose of the visit was to see this – The Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway. The entrance first takes you underground into the Rhizotron, animated sculptures of creepy crawlies cover the walls and an illuminated coloured glass mosaic lights the floor – the display explains the complex relationships of organisms and tree roots. Back in the sunshine above ground it's time to climb the 118 steps to the Treetop Walkway.

The structure meanders through the branches 18 metres above the ground. I even forgot to be scared of walking over metal grids high up in the sky!

Through the branches panoramic views of the the Temperate House and London stretching out in the distance and looking amazingly green and leafy.

Look down over the handrail (yes, the walkway wobbles a tiny bit, but it's so fascinating you'll soon get used to it) and you'll see a tapestry of greens laid out below.

And then back down the zig-zag stairs to the woodland floor. It's worth every step.

LinkWe looked around Queen Charlotte's Cottage; sat by the Thames and enjoyed the view of Syon House across the river; admired the gorgeous scented flowers of the rhododendrons; visited the Japanese Minka in the bamboo garden and ate walnut cake at the White Peaks café.

I wanted to take the Queen's Garden behind Kew Palace, home with me :-) The laburnum arcades surround a rectangular sunken garden full of herbs and medicinal plants, and mix of formal clipped box and modest plants that would have been grown in 17th century garden.

It's Kew's 250th Birthday this year and to celebrate the power of seeds Tom Hare has been commissioned to weave these fantastic giant willow sculptures inspired by seed pods. Five are already in situ . . .


Horse Chestnut


Star Anise

and a further five, lotus, honesty, Sophora, sycamore and coco de mer, are being constructed over the summer – and you can actually help Tom to weave them at workshops over the next few months.


  1. Lovely informative post and great pictures.

  2. Now I have seen this, it is on my list. We went to Kew on our honeymoon, then it was a penny in the turnstile! (1976) Yes, I am very old!

  3. I love Kew so much! It is my favourite place to visit in London and I wish I could go there more often.... *sigh*

    Another lovely garden - which is a close second to Kew for me at least - is Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. It has only been open a few days a year but I think that is changing...

  4. There is something so beautiful about bluebells. The fact you can turn the corner and be greeted with a sea of blue.

    Stunning sculptures, I especially like the poppy one.

  5. Thank you for this. It makes me want to visit Kew again, after many years away. A bit far from Seattle, but it has just moved up quite a few notches on my list. What wonderful sculptures!

  6. Hi Joanne and thank you!

    Hi Acornmoon - it's more than a penny now!

    Hi Rose - we love Wrest Park too! It's an easy day trip from here and a great place for a picnic :-)

    Hi Jules - the sculptures are amazing, so beautifully constructed. It would be fun to try to make one.

  7. Oh, and hi Jean - welcome to PPPs!
    Kew was fabulous when I visited 17 years ago - it's so much more so now!

    I've just had a quick look at your web site - put Kew at the top of your must-see list now!


  8. You're right--that is gorgeous. And how nice of them to build such a huge structure so you could enjoy the view.

  9. The willow sculptures are fantastic!! Thanks for showing us those. I've never been to the gardens at Kew, though it is definitely on my list for our next trip. That walkway looks amazing!

  10. Oh my goodness how absolutley fabulous....I'm so inspired by those woven scultures!!

  11. We have already decided on a Kew visit for Himself's 60th Birthday Treat. Quite an expedition from here! Those sculptures would be worth going to see if they were the only attraction.

    We have a bluebell wood a couple of miles from us - it's alsmost ultra-violet on a bright day.

  12. Wonderful to see the changes since my last visit (1979)and the sculptures great!
    For a scary walkway, try this

    The first time, I was petrified, but after a few crossings I became quite blase!

  13. I can't believe I've never been to Kew but it looks wonderful. Worth a visit to see those fabulous willow sculptures.

  14. wow! for that view i could put my acrophobia in control :)

  15. Hi Ed - the Treetop Walk is a great addition to Kew - you can enjoy the garden from a new perspective.

    Hi Jacqui - I think you'd love it.

    Hi Leanne - basket weaving meets sculpture on a giant scale - it's so well done!

    Hi Veg Heaven - what a fantastic birthday treat :-)

    Hi Moreidlethoughts - mmmmm? not sure I could cope with that - but maybe...

    Hi Gina - I'm sure you'd love it - we barely saw half the gardens and greenhouses and were there most of the day!

    Hi Petoskystone - I'm sure you'd forget about being scared if you were there!


  16. I have never been to Kew. It looks fantastic. Your posts never fail to enthuse and inform me. I had no idea about the willow sculptures and they are a must see for me. (I always regret not going to the chuigly glass exhibition at kew a couple of years ago.) I love weaving and willow structures ever since I did my A level photograpy exam 'weave, knot and tie'was the topic I chose and I took a lot of willow weaving images. I still can't leave it alone and kew looks like an itch I have to scratch now!

  17. Never been to Kew but seeing all those lovely pics has made me want to go now... A day out is in order me thinks.... ;)

  18. Very neat place! That skywalk looks pretty interesting. If I'm ever in England the gardens will be on my list of places to see!

  19. Kew gardens, a magical place. these sculptures are beautiful indeed!

  20. This puts me to shame, I live within a few miles of Kew and haven't visited since the entry price was one penny. Must put this right...... Just rang my sister and we're going next Tuesday!

  21. Hey, looks like I should get a commission from Kew for all the extra visitors they're going to get!

    Hi Rhiannon - I missed the glass sculptures too :-( but I have visited Dale Chihuly's studio in Tacoma - magical!

    Welcome to PPPs Paul and Melanie, Dave and Ruthie - hope you get to visit Kew one day :-)

    Hi Woodland Fay - enjoy your visit on Tuesday - but it'll cost a bit more than a penny!


  22. These are gorgeous. The horse chestnut and the banksia are my favourites. Look forward to seeing the others too.


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