Ok, so technically Kew Gardens is in London but its on the outskirts so a few hours spent here makes you feel you are in the calmest corner of the world away from the chaos of the city. My friend Liz and I still had some time off from work around the holidays, (you know because European employers like to give their employees more than just a day or two off around Christmas) and I had heard wonderful things about Kew Gardens from my boss.
When we first walked in we noticed instantly how beautiful and expansive the grounds were with green everywhere and gardens and ponds spread for miles around us. What I loved the most was how quiet it was. It was early January and unbelievably cold and while we noticed other patrons, it was pretty much empty. We first went to the Palm House which is an indoor tropical environment housing plants from Asia, Australasia and the Pacific. The flowers smelled amazing and were so colorful and it was obviously warm inside so that was a big plus.
We went back out into the cold for the short walk over to the Princess of Wales Conservatory that contains ten different climate zones from dry desert and wet tropical to the very frosty like the climate zone below. All of these zones exist to accommodate the plants and their particular needs and I just learned that it’s all computer-controlled. It seems like a maze in there with two different levels and rock and river paths to follow from one room to the next.
I would definitely recommend spending an early morning or long afternoon here and if you really want to see everything Kew Gardens has to offer you could make a day of it. The gardens are easily accessible by London’s Underground and it was only about a half-hour train ride from Central London. For more information and hours, make sure to visit their website.