Friday, 23 October 2015

The Tree Museum

When Alex first invited me to join in on her trip to London, the first thing I asked was if we could go to Kew Gardens. I knew that Alex, a fellow plant-lover would be as excited for a trip to Kew as I was because this beautiful arboretum is like Disneyland for the botanists! Just picture - a whole park celebrating nature and botany hidden within the city next to the Thames. 
Back home in Cornwall, we have the Eden project which attracts tourists year in year out and charges a pretty penny in doing so. I've been a couple of times to the Eden sessions festivals with my friends and twice with my Dad when I was younger. I'm not sure what it was, but it didn't really enchant me. It's beautiful in its way, and filled with glorious plants from all over the world fooled into thinking they're somewhere else in their contained climates, but it was missing something, and I think that something that the old romantic inside of me gravitates towards - charm and whimsy. 
Kew has charm and whimsy in abundance, it was like stumbling into a not-so-secret garden, a realm of tended to and much beloved plant life and nature. At every turn there was a beautiful victorian greenhouse, a glade covered with a carpet of autumn leaves and canopies upon canopies of trees decorated by fall. And, then there were the Peacocks. 

The history of Kew Gardens can be traced back to 1759 from an exotic garden at Kew park. It is currently the worlds largest collection of living plants and holds over 30,000 living plants in it's gardens and greenhouses. It has played residence to royalty and queen Charlottes cottage sits snugly still, within the grounds. You can find Kew in the Richmond upon Thames borough of London which is a gorgeous place and only a short and easy walk from the train station. There are several different gates but we caught the tube and disembarked at Kew Gardens station which gave us a great opportunity to walk through the pretty town and enter at the Victoria gate. I feel like autumn was the absolute perfect season to experience Kew for the first time, I felt as though I was skipping about in a scene from a book. I had to pinch myself to remind me that it was all real! 

The dreamy and iconic palm house was our first stop and the part we had anticipated the most. It was built in 1848 and was the brainchild of architect Decimus Burton and iron founder Richard Turner. The frame is wrought iron and the panes of glass are hand blown which is an incredible feat to consider when you stand inside and look up at its majestic structure. It's not just the plants that are impressive, but the incredible walkways that you can reach by twisting iron staircases. There are so many handsome features and details to spot in the structure as well as it's abundant stock of palms!

I could have photographed an entire project on these spiral stairs alone

Headband: Anthropologie 

Smock: Olive clothing  Shoes: Fatface  Jeans: Cath Kidston
Bag: Cath Kidston 

The upper galleries were so fantastical. I felt as though I was transported in time, I have never in all my life experienced a place quite like it! The lighting and colours were something else so naturally Alex and I had to take a moment to stop ooing over the plants and architecture and just go camera crazy.

This little creeper has personality! He actually looks alive like he has popped up to say hello.

Feeling a little bit like a gardener in my Olive smock and baggy jeans. In the below photo's I told Alex to pull a 'moody face' :P We had been giggling at the high fashion posters on the London underground with their sultry models but even with a pout, Alex still looks like she belongs in some beautiful magazine like Kinfolk.

And then we went to explore the delightful Lilly house! I adore water Lilly's, and as a child I used to believe 100% that they were the hang outs for water sprites and frogs. In fact, last year I saw my very first frog chilling on a Lilly pad and I went berserk. Like, for real - frogs sit on Lilly pads! Who'da thunk it eh? Still looking out for sprites, mind.

Our next stop was the arboretum which was glorious. I got far too excited, rolled in the leaves like an excited puppy which Alex managed to document. I took off my shoes to walk in the leaves and on the autumn grass, delighted to feel the loamy earth on my toes and to be surrounded by nature much bigger than I, even if it was pristinely cared for nature - it was still nature to me. I had never seen a pagoda before and so I was really excited to see this strange oriental Rapunzel tower looming in the distance. We waded through leaf and twig stopping occasionally to collect acorns along the way until we arrived at the Pagoda. 
It was pretty swish. 

Apparently you can go up but I had no idea and didn't find out till afterwards. Kew gardens are so big however, we just didn't have time to fit everything in in just one day and so we're dying to go back. We chose one corner of the gardens to explore and even that took several hours without seeing the cottage, alpine house or orangery which lay on the other side of the park. I would definitely recommend getting there early to fit in as much as you can, or tackling the park over different days at different times of the year. For example I LOVED the arboretum and felt that autumn was the perfect time of year to experience it however it is said that in spring, Queen Charlottes cottage is cradled in a meadow of bluebells and it would be such a beautiful place for summer picnics. 
We decided to take our own picnic as we thought that the Kew restaurants would be pricy and so we grabbed some meal deals from the local supermarket that morning and ate our yum-yums on a cosy bench atop a hill that overlooked a clearing and the river. We found ourselves in the company of crows who only really wanted our dinner but it was nice to make some new friends all the same. We also met another Peacock who really was a dapper chap and enjoyed posing for us. The previous day we went in Liberty's for the first time to enjoy their christmas section and get inspiration for homemade decorations. It seems this year peacocks are in! 

One of the last things we did before it started to get really cold was a tree walkway which was high up in the branches where you could see out over the gardens and look at the high rises and London city buildings nearby. It suddenly became believable that this dreamy Narnia was plopped right in the capital city, for an afternoon I had almost forgot.

I would like to thank the wonderful Alex from the On Serpentine Shores blog for inviting me to tag along on her little holiday to London, for letting me stay with her in the rad apartment in Depford and for not judging me when I rolled in the leaves. You should check out her blog too and keep an eye out for her account of our trip to Kew and the funky post on the tour of the apartment we stayed at which she published the other day.

Eventually it became so cold that we retreated to the alluring gift shop where I wanted to buy everything and adopt a succulent. Alex reminded me that succulents were hip and I had already used up my hipster quota for the week as I had taken a 'Shoes in the leaves' shot that morning, instagrammed some pumpkins AND had collected acorns and so I bought a sketchbook instead and a bar of Rose chocolate. Kew is possibly one of my favourite man-made places that I have ever visited, right up there with Typhoon Lagoon in Disney Florida and the eiffel tower. I am desperate to return to this wonderful place and it has made me like London a whole lot more. Our little escape away was delightful and I loved the city in the autumn. I also got to see one of my favourite people, Josiah and introduce him and Alex to each other which was great because I love merging my friendship groups creating new friendships which means everyone wins. 
I'm back in Bath again, wrestling with third year degree mayhem and basking in the excitement of the new Potter soc Sophie and I set up. We held our first meeting in the Castle and it was such a success we filled up the castle and ran out of space. We made Butterbeer, played 'Who am I' and did a sorting and it was so great to meet brilliant souls with a mutual appreciation of the wizarding world and lots of people turned up in Cosplay which was amazing. I am so excited to get to know these people even more and see how our society develops. Next week, George and I are off to MY FAVOURITE CITY EVER for an adventure. Me, favourite city? that's a phrase you don't often hear from my mouth. Any takers as to where we are going? Until then... 



  1. I love Kew! It really is a gem. I.first went there as a child and last went about 6years ago. It is magical and I loved going on a 'plant talk' to learn about how rubber trees qork (whichever house the rubber tree was in was my favourite although I loved the orchid display house.

    A friend of mine is Head of publishing there and I always think it must be a wonderful organization to work for though I'm sure it is fraught with difficulties like any other place!
    Your photos are beautiful. It is that gorgeous light again that makes your photos magical.

    1. Wow your friend has a brilliant job! I was thinking how I'd love to work at Kew, perhaps I should do an apprenticeship in botany! The only problem is, I struggle to keep my Cacti and ferns alive, let alone orchids! I resolve myself to photographing them and handing them over to George for care :)
      The light inside the green houses was dreamy, I think I'm naturally attracted to good light because it's the closest we can feel to magic and ethereality in day to day life :)

  2. Oh, the Kew Gardens seem just wonderful. They remind me a lot of my beloved Botanic Gardens here in Glasgow, only bigger. And look at that peacock! It looks so majestic. Also loving the photos of you and Alex in the leaves - looks like you're having a lot of fun!

    Your favourite city? What might that be? I'm curious now!

    Mimmi xx
    Muted Mornings

    1. It's a surprise! but I'll give you a clue... it's closer than you think! :P I'm not sure I've talked about it before over here but I fell in love with the place a few years back because it has an abundance of charm, old magic and medieval history. I am so incredibly excited to visit it again!
      We had so much fun in Kew too, more fun than should be allowed I think ^_^ Gardens are just so brilliant, London may be full of smoke and cars but it also has some incredible places to discover :D I am already thinking about my next trip ^_^ xxx

  3. Hi Sarah, I came across while browsing twitter. your photos are amazing and it's such a delightful read! x

    1. ah typo, I meant to say *came across your blog

    2. Thankyou Alexandra! :D Always aiming for delightful ^_^ horray! xo

  4. Wow, that place seems absolutely gorgeous. I'm definitely going to have to stop by if I ever make my way to London. I love greenhouses and I love how big it is, and the history of it.

    I also really love your sweater, it is adorable. I read Alex's post about the apartment as well, which was really cool and eclectic!

    Looks like a great time and a great city escape :)

    Peace & Love // Celestralite

    1. If I could do it all again I would ^_^ and thank you! I got it from Olive clothing ^_^ I felt a lot like a botanist in it :P We had a rad time ;D Thanks for stopping by Celeste :D xo

  5. That shot of the peacock under the tree is stunning! The colours are incredible xx

    1. Thankyou Jenny! :D I definitely lucked out with all the beautiful things to photograph ^_^ xo

  6. Oh. My.

    * has been rendered speechless *


    1. <3 I'm sorry, I forgot to warn you that I masquerade as a tongue stealing sea-witch part time :P
      My other hobbies include transforming mermaids into humans and bewitching their man-crushes ;) Oh, and I like Eels! :D xoxo


© The Salty Sea Blog. All rights reserved.