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Kew Gardens: Palm House

September 15, 2012

Today I should be posting something else – it’s the 15th, Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – but it’s been too cloudy and dark to take pictures, so I’ll finally get started on the Kew pictures. After some serious culling, I’ve reduced them from over 400 to about 250… and now I’ll have to decide which of them to post – that’ll be a difficult choice!

We picked the perfect day for Kew Gardens – as you can see from the picture, the weather was a mix of sunshine and (sometimes heavy) rain, but that was OK, since I was most interested in the greenhouses anyway. We managed to always be inside when it rained – and because it wasn’t sunny all the time, the greenhouses weren’t unbearably hot either. (Because while those Victorian greenhouses are absolutely gorgeous, they don’t seem to have any shading.)

My friend Libra in front of the Palm House. (You might know I usually don’t show people’s faces here, so Libra and I will be passionflower-faced… only fitting, since passionflowers came up in conversation quite often.)

My first “wow, never seen that before!” moment: a variegated Spathiphyllum.

“Stop, don’t move, I have to take a picture of you!” I think Libra had been photographing the underside of that leaf when I snapped this picture. I love it (although it would be better without the people in the background).

If you look at the floor in that picture, it explains this sign:

Cracked me up! I mean, why would anyone go to a place like Kew Gardens in high heels anyway? Makes my feet hurt just thinking about it… but then, I’ve always been a sensible-shoes, flat-soles kind of girl, and I’d probably break my ankle after three steps if I tried to walk in high-heeled shoes…

Some sort of Hibiscus, I think. It looks so elegant and… sort of weightless. Although my best friend just described it as, “it looks like a tree is growing out of the flower”, so now it makes me laugh, too.

Love all the different shades of green!

I have exactly the same variety of croton (Codiaeum variegatum), only mine is a fraction of this size. The only reason I have one in the first place is that I know they can become big and beautiful like this – we used to have a couple of huge plants at the Apprenticeship Place, to take cuttings from – but mine is just not growing at all, and I’m losing patience.

I kept having “oh, I have this, but mine is tiny!” moments – in the Palm House, it was mostly about carpets of Fittonias and Marantas, and a 9 metres high Monstera deliciosa.

And the Pandanus! The plant itself was way too tall to take a picture of it, but those roots!

As thick as my skinny arms and longer than my entire plant is tall!


It’s difficult to get a picture of the whole “jungle”. That’s why I mostly took pictures of details.

Carpets of Episcia… this is just one of many varieties.

Quite apart from the fact that I don’t want to try growing any more gesneriads anyway, this makes the whole houseplant thing feel a little pointless… my plants will never be as big or look as good anyway…

Zingiber spectabile, Beehive Ginger. My best friend, however, thinks they look like so many tiny sinks, so it is now called Bathroom Sink Ginger.

I’m amazed that my camera actually focussed on something so small.

There’s a gallery running around the main part of the Palm House, at a height of 9 m (says Wikipedia, I’ll just take their word for it – I’m bad at estimating heights or indeed estimating anything.) This is how I know the Monstera deliciosa is 9 m high, because this is what you see if you lean over the railing at the top of the stairs:

Looking beyond that, at the narrower part of the greenhouse:

Looking down:

The crazy trunk of some sort of palm tree.

Looking along the gallery.

Looking up – I think this is some Caryota (fishtail palm) species.

Quite high up…

Soon after we had gone back downstairs, Libra had to go outside because it was getting too hot and humid for her. I wandered around for a bit longer, taking a few more pictures and helping a couple find a neem tree and explaining about botanical names, before I finally joined her.

I think I was pretty well-behaved by my standards. OK, I might have occasionally gasped loud enough to make people stare and squeaked in excitement, but I didn’t act quite as crazily as that one time when I was in Vienna with others of my mostly-online friends… the way one of them described my behaviour in the Palm House at Schönbrunn still makes me laugh: “[Ivy] was possessed by a latin speaking demon for a while and danced from plant to plant like a magical wingless faery.”

… hm, well, I might have danced from plant to plant, but I kept my Latin babbling under control… I think.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    September 16, 2012 03:15

    I think perhaps your Caryota might be C. urens judging by the scale. That white hibiscus is positively charming, I wish it was something I’d find for sale

    • September 16, 2012 12:27

      True, I realized later that it might be some other Caryota species, but was too tired to go back and do any research.


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