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.
Kew's enormous Olympic Rings - originally planted to mark 100 days to go until the beginning of the Games - have recently been replanted and are looking fabulous right now as we head into the second week of the competition. Visitors to Kew, and also those arriving overhead by plane to Heathrow, are thoroughly enjoying this colourful spectacle.
The Olympic Rings on the lawn outside the Orangery
One of the roundabouts near the Palm House has also caught the Olympic spirit with flowers boldly representing the Paralympic logo in a sea of white gravel.
Meet the record breakers
There's some jaw-dropping record breakers of the plant world to see too - you can visit the coastal redwoods in the Redwood Grove - this species is the tallest living thing on Earth! You can see fast-as-a-lightning-bolt Venus fly traps in the carnivorous plants area in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. There's a titan arum here too - one of the largest flowering structures in the world - growing to around 3 metres high.
The titan arum's flowering structure can reach epic proportions
The Princess of Wales Conservatory is a fabulous place to witness the variety of plant life - in the wonderful orchid display cases you can see some of the most beautiful and weirdest-looking flowers you will ever come across.
As well as enjoying the waterlilies here you can also head to the Waterlily House to see some of the largest leaves in the world (those of the giant waterlily) in the central pool, while in the display around the edges of the glasshouse there are some of the hottest chillies known to man.
In the Palm House you can see possibly the oldest pot plant in the world - the Eastern Cape giant cycad brought back from South Africa in 1775 by Kew's first plant hunter Francis Masson. Also in the Palm House is the coco de mer (or double coconut) - a palm from the Seychelles that produces the largest seed in the world.
You can also see some of the fastest growing plants in the Palm House. Check out the giant bamboo, which has a large wooden ruler next to it to show you just how unbelievably quickly it grows.
Coming up in the magazine...
In the magazine office we're currently putting together all the features and news for our autumn issue. One feature will be celebrating four of Kew's oldest trees known as the Old Lions, which mark 250 years in the Gardens this year. We'll be bringing you their statistics and some great images too.
Kew's Ginkgo biloba is 250 years old
So, even if you didn't get tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games, come to Kew to share the excitement, see the Rings and marvel at some of the world's most amazing record breakers.
1 comment on 'Have you caught Olympic Fever?'
The sculptures are looking fantastic right now and there's plenty to see, whatever the weather.
If you haven't yet visited Kew to see the David Nash sculptures then you're missing a treat. With a wide variety of indoor and outdoor sculptures, drawings and film on display throughout the Gardens this is an exhibition with a lot to offer. I find myself wanting to choose a favourite when I walk by them each day, but it's proving difficult. So far I'm wavering between four! This is one of them...I find it extraordinary...
Cairn Column by David Nash, near the Main Gate at Kew
A exhibition for all weathers
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery and The Temperate House are particularly interesting and packed with a wide variety of sculptures both large and small. These are also great places to see the sculptures even if the weather isn't great. I've loved seeing Nash's drawings and the film of Wooden Boulder in the Gallery - this is the tale of a traveling piece of sculpture as it makes its own way down a stream, river and estuary, out to the sea. It's wonderfully peaceful and a great way to understand Nash's philosophy of working with nature and the environment to create something meaningful.
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery offers great insights into Nash's work
So, why not come along soon? You can read all about David Nash in this feature in the latest Kew magazine, where he talks to writer Ambra Edwards about his work and his hopes for the exhibition over the next year. There are free guided tours each day and there's also a souvenir guide and an app too! Why not also share your thoughts on the exhibition on our Facebook page or upload your images to our Flickr group? You can find some amazing shots of the exhibition already there.
The exhibition is a really interesting way of finding out how art can work in a landscape, and don't forget - you can actually see new works being made at the Wood Quarry!
Where else can you get that?
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This year has so far proved to be a year for talking about restoration. Not long ago we described the fundraising campaign for the restoration of the Temperate House, and Kew’s new restoration ecology programme (winter issue 2011) but since then we’ve been preparing features for Kew magazine on the restoration of the Georgian kitchens at Kew by Historic Royal Palaces, the restoration of Westwood Lake at Wakehurst, as well as the work by Kew botanists and Kew’s GIS team in helping to restore an expanse of Sumatran rainforest. All very different projects, and all extremely interesting.
The Kew Palace Georgian kitchens have been virtually untouched since the mid 1800s
Going behind the scenes
In the summer issue of Kew magazine (out 30 May) we go behind the scenes with these last three projects to reveal how they were achieved and why they are all so important – be it to our heritage, protecting water resources or protecting native species and habitats. The Georgian royal kitchens, next to Kew Palace, have a fascinating tale of discovery, conservation and presentation to tell. I was lucky enough to head to the kitchens for a tour on Tuesday and experience them come to life again as several fully costumed chefs cooked a variety of delicious Georgian dishes and filled the air with enticing smells, as well as creating stunning frosted fruit centrepieces. Be sure to come along and discover the royal kitchens and Kew’s history this summer. You can find out much more online and even watch Georgian cooking lessons on Youtube.
The Georgian kitchens have just been restored and are being brought back to life
Kew's new exhibition
Alongside these fascinating stories, which have required some pretty last minute photoshoots, we have been following the progress of the installation of the David Nash exhibition – David Nash at Kew: A Natural Gallery. Award-winning writer Ambra Edwards met up with David Nash to find out more about his background, his philosophy, his plans at Kew and the new work he’s creating in his Wood Quarry (or outdoor studio). We hope you’ll enjoy the article and the exhibition – it will be changing over the course of Nash’s year at Kew so will be well worth a few visits through the seasons. Our What’s On pages in the magazine list all the events, talks, tours and courses organised around the exhibition so be sure to check them out when you get your copy.
Overlap by David Nash - one of many sculptures now in the Temperate House
We had a great response to the new design of Kew magazine, so thank you all for your kind messages, encouragement and constructive comments. We aim to keep bringing you the best stories from Kew and Wakehurst to help you get the most from supporting Kew.
- Christina -
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The past few months have, by turns, been exciting, nerve-wracking, tense and very busy. This is not a comment on my family Christmas and New Year but rather the fact that as a team we have been completely redesigning Kew magazine. We’ve spent the past few months working to make the magazine better for you - the readers - as well as making it serve Kew better too. The past week has been particularly eventful as we’ve just sent all our final files off to press.
The new design is clean, sleek and contemporary and now looks very much a part of Kew. Our designer has done sterling work to meet our very finicky standards, and hasn’t lost his rag once (well, not that I know of anyway). We’ve still got all our great features and columns, news pages and wonderful photography. We’re also being that bit more sustainable and will be switching to FSC paper (rather than PEFC paper as now), and we still have our degradable packaging.
You may have heard that Kew’s membership has been changing so this seemed the best time to also bring Kew magazine bang up to date and help welcome in all our new members.
The new look Kew magazine - spring 2012
Value for money
Another big change is that we’re now only publishing three times a year – in spring, summer and autumn. We know that we can bring you plenty of great stories in three issues, while the money that would have contributed to the fourth issue will be used directly by the Kew Foundation for vital Kew projects. That means more of your membership or subscription money goes directly to Kew’s work.
We hope to make more of our pages on the web so we do hope you’ll keep in touch with us here in between issues. Kew magazine will now come out in March, June and October.
What’s in the spring issue?
In the spring issue we’ve got some great behind-the-scenes features. We take a look at the wonderful range of Narcissus at Kew and give you some tips on how to grow them in your garden. We meet up with Sir David Attenborough as he finishes filming at Kew for the new 3D TV series by Atlantic Productions (for Sky 3D). He talks to us about how he thinks the new series will inspire people everywhere about the wonders of plants.
We also head into the steamy forests of Ecuador to find some very peculiar mushroom-mimicking orchids that specialise in tricking their pollinators. And, as always, we bring you the best of the International Garden Photographer of the Year – at Kew from March until early April.
Kew magazine’s purpose, as ever, is to bring you the best and most interesting stories about what’s going on at Kew – the science and conservation, the collections, the archives, meeting people behind the scenes, exploring the exhibitions and festivals, and most of all, enjoying the wonderful plants that grow at Kew and Wakehurst.
We hope you’ll like the new design, the spring issue is out on 9 March.
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Today marks the 100th anniversary of the day Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his team reached the South Pole, only to find that the rival Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen, had got there before them, and not just by a few days but by over a month.
Captain Scott writing in his cabin
It must be the world’s largest understatement to say they must have been disappointed. The near super-human effort involved in getting there all for naught. But was it? Many forget that this was not simply a race for the Pole. For Scott this time in Antarctica had always been about science and thankfully many authors and commentators now bring this to the fore and recognise his dedication to this element of the expedition.
Letter from Scott to Hooker
It was on this subject that Captain Scott wrote to Sir Joseph Hooker when he was planning his first trip to Antarctica in 1901 on the Discovery. Until I saw the letter in the exhibition in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art I had no idea that the two men had corresponded, but there it was – Scott’s letter to Hooker thanking him for his encouragement on his pursuit of science and the idea of setting up balloon experiments.
The letter dated 21 May 1901 reads: ‘It was your suggestion and the great weight of your practical experience alone that caused me to consider a balloon experiment as a practical possibility. Thank you very much for your generous support. I hope we shall manage to realise our wish.’
Scott's letter to Hooker currently displayed in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery at Kew Gardens
Joseph Hooker - Antarctic botanist
Hooker was of course, despite his much greater age at the time of this letter (he was 83), an experienced man in terms of Antarctica. He was there, on HMS Erebus, on Captain Clark Ross’s four-year southern ocean expedition (1839-1843). It is from that expedition that so many places in Antarctica take their names – McMurdo Sound, Mount Erebus and Mount Terror, the Ross Ice Shelf, to name a few.
As we all know, despite Scott’s great wealth of experience and his dedication, his second expedition on the Terra Nova (1910-1913) ended with all five of Scott’s Pole team dead only 18 km from a refuelling station. But with them they had scientific specimens and drawings, ones they had stopped to collect on the arduous journey back. And, of course, others survived with their completed experiments, measurements and specimens, including Apsley Cherry-Garrard and the famous emperor penguin eggs.
It is in fact for this we should remember Scott and all his team today, for it is this legacy that has had the most impact on Antarctica and its history. As the famous words, from Tennyson, on their memorial read: ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’. They speak for all scientists as well as polar explorers.
- Christina -
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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.”
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
Your iPad as a window on Kew: It appears we've had some technical difficulties with the Kew magazine app. If you have already down ... by: Christina
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