Entrance to the Gardens

This last August we planned a three week trip to Europe that ended up being two weeks (more on that in a later post).  Even with a shortened itinerary, we have never been ones to sit still for long. Cheers to packing all the sights into the time we had!

I’ll be grouping our stops into individual posts…mostly just to keep myself straight.

Our first stop was in London to see my dear friend Jess and her boys. She always manages to pull a lovely adventure out of the hat when we are in town; this year, Kew Gardens.  With sunglasses on and cameras around our necks, the 5 of us squeezed into a tiny Fiat and off we went, buzzing around London-town.

I wasn’t kidding about the squeezing.

Wouldn’t be complete without some period costumes to set the scene.

There must be a legion of gardeners employed here. Funny enough, we didn’t see one all day.

Set on 299 acres, Kew Gardens dates back to 1759

I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of Kew Gardens prior to our recent trip. Thankfully that has been amended and I’m thrilled to share a small part of it with you all. The Garden is about 30 minutes outside of London by car (depending on traffic) and around 50 minutes by tube from the center of the city.

Some perspective on Kew’s location vs. the center of London.

In the 18th century the English Royal family used the grounds as a summer home.  Now, it is so much more than a vacation property: It’s a UNESCO World Heritage sight and home to The Kews Millennium Seed Bank…and it is breathtaking.

Solid cafeteria food. Bangers and mash; fuel for plant sightings.

The Seed Bank currently houses 10% of the world’s flowering plant seeds. That’s around 30,000 seeds! We didn’t get a chance to visit that site, but as their goal is to expand to 25% by 2020, the opportunity will ideally still be there.

Bubblegum Ice Cream + Sprinkles = the happiest Max imaginable.

Lacy Tops

Jess and Max.

These remind me of dinosaur tracks. And Christmas.

The greenhouse reflection makes it so dreamy.

I think Noah was trying to lock Max out. Oh, brotherly love.

Orchids with an Evan background.

Bananas start out so pretty. And end up so sad and brown on my kitchen counter.

Some serious fan-age.

Cacao trees also start out so pretty. Then it’s all just brown and gooey and fattening.

Kew Gardens is also home to the world’s largest Victorian Greenhouse. There is a spiral staircase to the tip-top, and of course curiosity insisted I climb it. So, so hot in there!The pictures don’t show how we were almost immediately drenched in sweat in 110% humidity and 140° temperature. I may slightly exaggerate.

The Garden is not just for the green thumbs of the world and your grandma’s garden club: we had Jess’ boys, aged 4 and 8 with us and they were captivated (almost) the entire time.

I’ve never considered myself a phytophilous by definition, but times they be a changin’.  The sheer number of plant photos on this blog begs to differ.

In the Waterlily House, these giant Amazon waterlily (Victoria amazonica) make their home. I couldn’t take enough pictures of the beauties. Count yourselves lucky I settled with the number I did. 

 

Pitcher plants: Gory but Beautiful

A little Venous Fly Trap for a change in your garden-variety insecticide offering.

The little guy in the front almost looks like he has a mustache. Very dapper for a death machine.

 

Cacti & Succulents

 

London

After a long day of plant sightings, Evan, Jess and I went out for a night in London. We had a well-deserved meal at an one of Ottolenghi’s restaurants that we had not yet visited. As always, Ottolenghi never disappoints.

London’s side streets also never disappoint. And all the colorful taverns–how can you not love it?

Somewhere in in the financial district, this square had to have hundreds of coworkers enjoying after work drinks. It was like nothing I’d seen before. Jess said this happens pretty much every day after work. All I can say is my department had better step their game up.

Of course this is a thing in London.

The Spitalfields location.

It’s too much. Thankfully Ottolenghi’s “Sweet” book is out and now I have no excuse to recreate this in my own front window.

The inner sanctum of Ottolenghi.

We wandered around the city a bit and then had a wonderful send-off to Paris in the morning from two blonde, tow-headed little loves and freshly warmed pastries.  Of course we didn’t want to leave, but we never do. It’s like having a second family thousands of miles away.

 

Next stop: France!

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