I'm a freelance writer and yogi living in Tepoztlan, Mexico where I'm running www.casadelcorazon.mx with my girlfriend. You can keep up with my other writing on www.bollocks2thewellingtons.com/
Published January 14th 2017
London's magical botanical garden
Last year I moved to a beautiful flat near Kew Gardens and this has been the impetus that drove me to buy a membership and visit this famous London park time and again.
The gardens have so much to see, from a treetop walkway, huge greenhouses containing all sorts from tropical palms and enormous lilypads to cacti and ferns. It has art galleries and Japanese structures, play areas and restaurants. It has a lake, a pond, rockeries and wild areas as well as manicured lawns and a meadow.
One new addition last year was the installation called The Hive. This structure is connected to an actual beehive within the gardens and the sounds that are generated and the lights which flash on and off within the structure are reacting to the amount of activity within the beehive. The gentle humming sounds lend a great calmness and serenity to the piece and if it wasn't always busy, this would be a lovely spot to meditate.
The most amazing thing about Kew, however, is the trees. Every time I go I seem to find a new favourite. From the grand old English Oak to a magical pine, there is always a new magnificent specimen somewhere. Whether it's a magnificent ancient Yew with its bulbous trunk or a bright, fresh eucalyptus spreading its aroma, I want to go and hug them all!
In the far corner of the gardens is Queen Charlotte's cottage and the area around this is a conservation area which has been left to grow wild as requested by the Queen when she bequeathed the land to Kew. You can only walk around the paths here but it is a beautiful contrast to the manicured nature of the rest of the gardens. There is a new hide and raised walkway in this section which enables you to see a bit closer into this environment.
The lake is a wonderful place to sit and watch wildlife with a plethora of ducks, geese, moorhens and seagulls all vying for the attention (and food) from visitors. There are some beautiful crested ducks here and you can really start to feel the character of the individuals as you sit and watch the interplay between them all.
From various vantage points the Japanese Pagoda rises up above the treeline and it is perfectly situated at the end of several boulevards that lead to it. Nearby is the recreation of a ceremonial gate originally in Kyoto.
To add to the Japanese influence on the gardens there is a Minka house - constructed entirely without nails, which was donated and was originally lived in Okazaki City.
Over Christmas, the gardens are lit up at night by thousands of bulbs which make up a walkway of wonder. Many artists contribute pieces that make up the journey and this year there was a tunnel of light, the partridge in a pear tree characters, a mirrorball heart and a laser light show on the palm house among other things. Mix this in with mulled wine and toasted marshmallows as well as Christmas characters and this is a fun night out for all the family.
A summer evening event, Kew the Music is a series of concerts taking place over one week. Last year the acts ranged from Santana to the Abba tribute act Bjorn Again. I was lucky enough to be able to hear half of this from my living room!
In February there is a festival celebrating the Orchids of the gardens. The theme this year is India and there will be numerous displays of the beautiful flower as well as film screenings and hands-on sessions with the volunteers that man the gardens.
There are various cafes dotted around Kew where you can get salads, cakes and coffee but one of the features I like are the "temples" which are remnants of the original gardens.