Kew magazine blog
Kew magazine is the magazine of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Its purpose is to support and communicate the broad range of Kew’s work as it studies and saves plants, fungi and their habitats around the world. We follow intrepid botanists on expeditions around the world, unearth how Kew’s gardeners put on fantastic horticultural displays every year, and look at how staff are involved in practical conservation projects in both the UK and abroad, and much, much more.
Here you will get the latest updates from Christina Harrison, Editor of Kew magazine. Find out how the magazine is put together and what the latest feature stories are right here.
There's plenty in the news at the moment about Alfred Russel Wallace, and here at Kew magazine we certainly wanted to celebrate the work of one of the best naturalists in the history of science. Not only did Wallace discover plenty of new species, map unexplored areas, and become known as the father of biogeography – he is also the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection.
Read about Wallace's connections with Kew, and some of the intriguing artefacts Kew holds, in this Kew magazine article (pdf)
There is plenty in the Kew archives about Wallace, including many letters to the directors of the Gardens discussing both science and whether he could have a few plants for his own garden. There are also some intriguing palm specimens which were the only specimens to survive his arduous expedition to the Amazon after his ship home burned and sank.
Read Stephanie Pain's revealing article and then take a look at a charming little animated film she recommended to me from The New York Times.
You can find out lots more about Wallace and the celebrations of his centenary at the Natural History Museum, who have been co-ordinating the events. A new statue of Wallace has just been unveiled at the Museum too!
Although many view Wallace as a man who was overshadowed by his counterpart Charles Darwin, Wallace certainly never thought so at the time and indeed was one of the most celebrated scientists of his day. Whatever your view, now is the time to remember this giant of natural history and admire his tenacity and ground-breaking insights.
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Get your summer issue now
The Kew magazine summer issue is still on sale with features on bromeliads, herbs, edible flowers, wild yams, and trees that taste of onions! Remember that if you download our app edition you’ll also have access to four bonus features about delicious edible plants, and some great recipes too. Lavender and hazelnut biscotti anyone? Why not take a look at what’s in the summer issue now and download it for some fascinating weekend reading?
Preparing for autumn
While most people are still enjoying what's left of the summer, I'm focusing on putting the finishing touches to our autumn issue and pulling together lots of exciting extras to add to our app edition, both of which will be published on 27 September. When you're surrounded by images of autumn every day sometimes it's a surprise to go outside and not see the leaves falling!
We have some great photography to accompany our articles in this coming issue. There are some stunning shots of the giant willow sculptures along the Broad Walk and some breathtaking images of Wakehurst’s birch collection, as well as our pick of the best entries from this year’s International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. Here are two beautiful images, which we couldn't fit into our feature but you'll be able to see in the forthcoming Kew exhibition.
Waterlily House Window by Anthony Wallis, which won 2nd place in the Beauty of Plants category
Plenty for everyone by Alan Price, which gained third prize in the Bountiful Earth category
It's always a busy and exciting time finishing off the pages of a new issue and hoping that all our readers will find something of real interest to them when it lands on their doorsteps. I think one of my favourite features in the autumn issue is our plant profile on juniper (Juniperus communis). You may think that this is a dull little conifer usually seen at the back of old rock gardens, but Kew’s Richard Wilford brings this British native species to life and reminds us that this familiar tree is of real use to us and is actually endangered in our countryside. The feature even includes a quote from Monty Python's Life of Brian, and that can only be a good thing!
Juniper berries give gin its distinctive flavour.
Behind the scenes at the Fungarium
I also really enjoyed going behind the scenes with Kew's Fungarium team. The autumn phase of Kew's IncrEdibles festival, which will start on 2 September, will feature lots of fungi so we wanted to reveal the science and research going on into these fascinating organisms. Kew has several fungi experts and it was great to meet them and shine a light on the important work they are doing. Fungi outnumber plants by six to one and most plants depend on fungi to help them absorb water and nutrients from the soil. Yet fungi receive much less attention and research than plants.
Kew has one of the world's largest collections of fungi specimens, numbering an astonishing 1.25 million, and we managed to get some great photographs for our feature of a few of the edible species here and the people who work with them.
Head of mycology, Bryn Dentinger, shows us one of the 1.25 million specimens in Kew's Fungarium (copyright: John Millar)
Artist Tom Hare who created the stunning fungi sculptures on the Broad Walk (see our previous post) worked closely with the Fungarium team to choose the fungi he wanted to recreate, and to get the details of the sculptures right. On UK Fungus Day on 13 October you can come and visit Kew's Fungarium or take part in other fascinating fungi events.
Remember, you can find all the events at Kew and Wakehurst listed in the What's On pages at the back of the magazine. Another great reason to get your copy today!
Visit the IncrEdibles festival at Kew Gardens
- Garden tickets - Adults £14.50, concessions £12.50, kids 16 and under get in FREE (detailed ticket prices)
- Opening times - the Gardens open daily at 9.30am (detailed opening times)
- Location - Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Rd, Richmond, London, Surrey TW9 3AB (how to find us)
- Garden map - Download the IncrEdibles map (pdf)
- Download the Kew Gardens App - available on iTunes and Google Play. Find out more about the app and its features.
- Check out the Kew magazine iPad app
- Get your copy of Kew magazine
- Kew’s UK native tree seed project
- Discover more about Juniperus communis
- International Garden Photographer of the Year
- Visit Wakehurst Place
Tags: ground breaking
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When you’re trying to do a photo shoot not all of this is very conducive to getting the shot you want. Any photographer will tell you that bright sunshine is one of the worst conditions to try to take pictures in – especially as most people’s faces will be in shadow just when you don’t want them to be, and the contrast is usually horrible. In fact the five minutes before the rain (or 'deluge') started proved to be the best in terms of light. Hearing that thunder getting closer and closer certainly did focus the mind.
Setting up the shot involved placing the willow bundles and the fungi sculpture Tom was working on 'just so' to catch the reflected light.
As editor, I don’t have much to do on these photo shoots except hold the umbrella over the camera when it pours down and get the teas in. It’s fantastic to see our photographer at work though, and to help set up the shots, move the lights and 'props', and then see a piece of art being created. It’s always amazing to me that what I can see with my eyes is not what will come out as the final shot. With the magic of lights in the right place, and all the other tricks photographers pull with aperture and depth of field, we now have a stunning set of formal portraits and reportage shots of Tom and his team at work to celebrate this new exhibition at Kew.
Dodging the heavy showers with lights and tools. Tom was very patient!
This was all in aid of a great interview feature we have lined up for the Kew magazine autumn issue. Tom has worked with Kew’s mycology team to create a set of willow sculptures, all of British edible mushrooms in different stages of development. They are absolutely stunning – from chanterelles to morels you will be wowed. Do come along and enjoy them on the Broad Walk. They are the result of four months’ long hard work and truly reveal the beauty of fungi. It was a great experience to be there with the team as they finished the sculptures and to hear visitors’ reactions as they came up to them. Everyone was enthralled with these beautifully textural pieces.
Make sure you get your copy of the magazine in September to see the final shots we took, but in the meantime come along to see Tom’s work.
Tom and his team with a few of their spectacular sculptures... almost finished...
- Get your copy of Kew magazine
- Find out more about Kew's IncrEdibles festival
- Discover more about Tom Hare
- John Millar photography
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The summer issue of Kew magazine should be landing on people's doormats today and tomorrow, and will appear in the Kew shops too.
In this issue there's a distinct IncrEdibles theme to celebrate Kew's summer festival of the same name. We've got a feature on the stars of the show - the bromeliads - which take centre stage at Kew with a large pineapple floating on the Palm House Pond!
Kew's Tutti frutti boating lake
You can read all about this fascinating group of plants in Richard Wilford's feature. There's also a beautifully illustrated feature on the Nosegay Garden at Kew and the useful and unusual herbs you can find there and in the Global Kitchen Garden. Renowned food writer Hattie Ellis takes us through the garden and picks a posy of her favourites for us to enjoy. There's even a delicious recipe from Peyton&Byrne for a wild garlic salsa verde to enjoy.
Discover more about bromeliads in our feature
We go behind the scenes to meet "the king of the jungle", Wes Shaw, the head of Kew's Palm House, to find out what it takes to look after one of the world's most famous and important glasshouses. He reveals some of the intriguing, and edible, plants he looks after and how every day is different.
There's unusual edibles too: edible flowers, a tree that tastes of onions, and the wild yams that Kew is helping communities in Africa and Madagascar to cultivate and conserve.
It's always good to get an opinion piece in the magazine and in this issue Guy Watson (BBC Farmer of the Year) discusses what kind of farming could ever be called sustainable, and whether we should be learning lessons from other parts of the world.
The Kew magazine summer issue is out now
As always there's lots to discover, and don't forget there's the whole list of events, talks, courses, tours and displays in our What's On section. You can plan your whole summer right here!
You can also find a lot more content in our app edition – there are four bonus features on edible plants – on lavender, mango, olive, and chilli, each with recipes for you to try. Kew's caterers Peyton&Byrne have also given us three summer salad recipes which you won't want to miss.
The Kew magazine app is free to Friends of Kew so, if you have access to an iPad, make sure you take a look today. You can also enjoy films, bonus slideshows, extra news items and easy links to Kew's website, shop and Youtube channel. Have a look now on iTunes.
I do hope you enjoy it.
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Our spring issue of Kew magazine is out now, and it’s not on its own due to the magazine going all appy on iTunes.
We’ve been working hard to get Kew magazine available on your iPad and other tablets, and I'm pleased to announce that there is now a new ‘app’ or digital version of Kew magazine available via iTunes. 'Hurrah!' I hear you cry. I have to say it’s turned out much better than we’d ever hoped – which is always a relief.
Not only have we got one-touch links to slideshows, films, blogs and plant profiles, but you can now very easily link through to browse the Kew shop and to buy tickets for events such as Kew the Music, all from one place. You can even email from the app should you want to book a place on a course. There will also be access to Kew’s Twitter and Facebook pages. We’re really hoping that readers find it an enriching experience bringing all parts of Kew together in one place. Shame it’s not scratch and sniff too but we’ll just have to wait for that technology.
If you’re a Friend of Kew you can access this new app magazine for free. That’s right – FREE! If you’re not a Friend (and why not?) you can buy individual issues or a subscription for a bargain price of £3.99 or £10.99 respectively (less than half the price of a print subscription). Once you've got the free 'Kew magazine' app downloaded from iTunes, all you have to do is enter your name and membership number in the My Account section and you're away.
If you have already downloaded the spring issue please refresh as we've had some technical difficulties with the Kew Magazine app.
What's in the issue?
As I write this, the temperature is just above freezing and spring still seems a fair way off, but even so the Gardens are starting to fill with snowdrops, cyclamen and narcissi. These brave little flowers are a beacon of hope that warmer weather will eventually turn up and that we’ll get some sunshine this year. I’m really looking forward to spring and am itching to get into my garden and veg plot. In our spring issue Wakehurst’s garden manager Chris Clennett takes us on a tour of the best Erythronium to see in both gardens, and reveals how best to look after them. I’m sure I’m going to be buying some of these woodland garden jewels for my shady patch very soon.
We also have great features on the beautiful dragon tree (Paulownia kawakamii), the Rapunzel flower (Phyteuma spicatum) and the food of the gods – chocolate (Theobroma cacao). It’s starting to sound like a fairy tale issue!
Behind the scenes with Kew science
On a more serious note we also delve into the problem of how climate change is going to affect both wild coffee species and coffee plantations. It’s a real reminder of how the health of our crops depends on the genetic diversity found in their wild relatives. You can read about current research from Kew and watch an exclusive interview with head of coffee research Dr Aaron Davis about this work on the app.
For lots more about what’s in the issue take a look at the contents pages and two of our features here. If you’re a Friend of Kew please do download our app and try out all the extra features. There’s a lot in there, so give it a go. Enjoy!
- Kew magazine spring issue contents
- How to get your copy
- Check out Kew’s book of the month
- Information on visiting Kew
- Become a Friend
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Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
Christina accepts a Kew Publishing award at the Garden Media Guild awards in 2012.
Christina joined Kew in 1999 after finishing a BSc. degree in Plant Ecology and an Advanced National Certificate in Horticulture. After initially working as a horticulturist in Kew’s Arboretum and the Hardy Display section (on the Grass Garden) she went on to become Festivals Interpretation Officer between 2002-2008, helping Kew’s onsite visitors understand what makes Kew tick. In the meantime she completed an MA in Garden History, a subject that continues to be one of her passions.
Christina was short-listed for a Garden Writers Guild award in 2007 for one of her articles in Kew magazine, and is the author of Kew’s Big Trees, published in 2008. She became editor of Kew magazine in September 2008. “I see Kew magazine as a window on the world of Kew,” she says. “I hope between its pages the many facets of Kew’s work and the people who make it happen are revealed for all to see and encourage readers to continue to support Kew.”
The Wallace Connection: What a great article with great links! Fascinated, I read and listened to all of them!. by: Sue Webster
Your iPad as a window on Kew: Thanks very much for your comment Louise, it's great to hear feedback. If anyone has any more feedba ... by: Christina
Your iPad as a window on Kew: The new app is brilliant. I can leave my magazine at my father in law's for him to read while I have ... by: Louise
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