Kew Gardens' group visits blog
Welcome to Kew Gardens' groups visit blog.
Kew Gardens’ group bookings team is here to help you plan your day out. In this blog we’ll be introducing attractions and ideas for group travel organisers to help you make the most of your visit. Paul and Imogen look forward to helping you plan your trip. Contact us on 020 8332 5648 or by email on email@example.com.
An IncrEdibles Autumn
Since autumn is the season of fruitfulness it’s appropriate that this year’s IncrEdibles festival runs through until 3 November. If you’ve been on the London Underground recently, you may have noticed our striking IncrEdibles posters. There’ll be a new autumnal design coming for the second phase of the festival, so watch out for a new image with stunning colours.
Colourful autumn pumpkins and squashes will be growing along the Broadwalk, with more pumpkins decorating the Waterlily House this October. Other new displays will focus on the extraordinary world of fungi. The button mushrooms we can buy so readily in any supermarket are only the beginning of a whole world of fascinating species, stories, and flavours.
The Global Kitchen Garden
One of my favourite parts of IncrEdibles so far is the Global Kitchen Garden. I don’t have a garden of my own and this is pretty much my dream garden! Edible plants of every kind, from all around the world, have been planted in a series of raised beds near the Lilac Garden. Round the outside are fruit trees and arches with fruiting climbers; in the raised beds you can find everything from plants you’ll recognise instantly through to the most extraordinary exotics.
At the centre a global map tells you more about their origins and the journeys they’ve made from their native habitats to our tables here in Britain. There are salads, root vegetables, fruit bushes, seasonings and herbs and pretty much every kind of crop imaginable, and by early autumn they should all be at their peak.
A previous year's pumpkin display in the Waterlily House
There’s going to be bright foliage colour everywhere in autumn, with scarlet vines, fiery smoke trees and red and gold maples all around the Gardens. We have trees from all over the world in Kew’s arboretum, so almost any time from September to November you’re likely to find fall colour somewhere in the Gardens. If you climb to the top of the Treetop Walkway you’ll find the vistas are opening out as leaves begin to fall, giving you amazing views across the whole of west London.
Autumn foliage at Kew Gardens
Indoors, in the Princess of Wales Conservatory in autumn you’ll find orchids like the stunning necklace orchid (Coelogyne dayana) while late-flowering tropical waterlilies bring colour to the central pool. Look out too for agaves, cacti and living stones, and colourful heliconias, bromeliads and bananas in bloom. More banana species, as well as exotic sights such as cocoa pods and cycad cones, can be found in the iconic Palm House, and the changing displays in the Davies Alpine House feature colourful seasonal treasures from southern Africa and South America.
The dramatic flowers of a necklace orchid (Coelogyne dayana) in the Princess of Wales Conservatory
So whether you come for the festival or simply to enjoy Kew's stunning autumn colours, start planning your Autumn visit now!
- Imogen -
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If you’ve ever wanted to row a boat out across a lake to explore a grotto underneath a giant pineapple, this will be your chance. And if, like me, you haven’t really contemplated giant pineapples before, well, this festival will be your chance to do just that – sit and contemplate one, raised on high on an artificial fruit island in the middle of the Palm House pond, as part of this summer’s celebration of incredible edible plants from around the world.
I’ve just seen the final designs for the poster we’ll be using to promote this extraordinary festival; so this is an exclusive preview of the image we hope you’ll be seeing across London and in the press this summer...
The colourful poster for Kew Gardens’ IncrEdibles festival
Tutti Frutti boating lake
Bompas and Parr, renowned for their unique brand of food-inspired interactive experiences, are coming to Kew to create the Tutti Frutti installation, including a boating lake and floating pineapple island. For those who don’t feel like rowing round the island, there’s also going to be a bridge, so you can walk across as well.
What’s more, there’ll also be a range of new displays and interactive exhibits, such as a giant tea party table with plants growing out of it, a bouncy carrot play zone for families, and a global kitchen garden featuring over 90 edible plants from all over the world.
At the weekends, you can get inspiration for your own edible gardening - Kew apprentices and students from the famous Kew School of Horticulture will be available at the Student Vegetable Gardens to chat about vegetable gardening techniques and the different types of produce they’re growing this year.
Delicious pumpkins and squashes make an appearance for autumn
Pumpkins and fungi
In the autumn, the festival’s due to enter a second phase. I haven’t yet heard all the details so I’ll be updating on this later in the spring when I know more. I do know that we’re planning to have no less than 16 different varieties of hardy pumpkins and squashes growing in beds along the Broad Walk. Hopefully the resulting display will be at its colourful best in good time for Halloween.
The other focus for autumn is going to be on fungi. You can learn more about common edible mushrooms as well as the other fungi used in food, such as that vital ingredient, yeast. Amazingly, without the humble yeast, we’d have no beer or wine, and our only bread would be flatbreads like tortillas!
We’re hoping that visitors will enjoy learning more about the extraordinary stories of edible plants and fungi as they visit Kew Gardens this summer and autumn. I’m certainly picking up some fascinating facts already. I’m sure I’m not the only one who loves her daily cups of tea but I’d never really thought before about the fact that I’m drinking boiled camellia leaves...
- Imogen -
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Summer’s a great time to visit any garden, let alone one as large and full of interest as Kew. This year’s summer festival celebrates edible plants from around the world and looks set to add plenty of extra seasonal interest. As a keen foodie, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing what the planned Global Kitchen Garden will showcase. I’ll be writing more about this in a few weeks’ time.
A classic part of any summer garden is roses, and over the last few years I’ve been watching the Rose Garden here at Kew really get going. It was completely restored in 2009 and replanted to the original Victorian plans of William Nesfield. As the roses settle in and get bushier and sturdier the quantity of blooms has increased each year. Last summer, on a sunny day you could smell the perfume from a hundred metres away, even on the other side of a hedge taller than a man. All we need is a few more sunny days this year...
The Waterlily House
Don’t miss the Waterlily House, Kew’s smallest and hottest glasshouse, where the fascinating giant waterlilies are grown. You can see a few of them in the picture above. By late summer when they’re fully grown, the lily pads can measure well over a metre across and apparently it’s true that they are strong enough to hold the weight of a small child. Around them in the tropical pool you’ll see a dozen or more other varieties of waterlilies from all over the world, as well as the beautiful sacred lotus from India, exotic food plants like rice and chillies, and Aristolochia vines with their weird hanging flowers.
As for the hidden gems; to start with, there’s always something beautiful to see in the Davies Alpine House and the surrounding Rock Garden. Another favourite area of mine is the secluded Mediterranean Garden, tucked in the lee of a mound midway between the Palm House and the Xstrata Treetop Walkway. The mound itself is crowned by King William’s Temple, one of the Gardens’ many old follies, and the slopes below it are planted with all the flora of a hillside in Italy or Greece. There are umbrella pines, cypresses, Spanish broom and cistus, and even a miniature olive grove...
The Mediterranean Garden
For more peace and quiet, you can simply wander through the arboretum and pinetum and enjoy the shade on a hot day. This is the quieter end of the Gardens, so you may meet some of our resident wildlife such as the peacocks (often pretty vocal at this time of year). If you stroll along the lakeside you could see ducklings, goslings and cygnets feeding peacefully with their parents, and you might catch a glimpse of a kingfisher.
The Lake and Sackler Crossing
- Imogen -
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Imogen Dent is the Group Bookings Coordinator at Kew Gardens and has been working here since 2005. Prior to coming to Kew she worked in a busy tourist information office, after graduating from art school in 2000. When you ring or email to make a group booking, she’ll probably be your first port of call.
Paul Chibeba is the Travel Trade and Group Bookings Manager. Paul joined Kew in 2012, returning to London after almost ten years in America. As travel trade manager, he is delighted to work with tour operators and travel planners from around the world to ensure that Kew is included in as many tours and packages as possible.
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