Snow: but it’s warm in the greenhouse!



Kew (Photo credit: Dave Stokes)


Yes it is indeed snowing and minus 2 here in London… not quite what the doctor ordered and we have some friends visiting for the weekend. We decided to brave the cold and just see what Kew had to offer as the garden has some lovely and warm greenhouses to visit if you manage your walk just right.

So off we went and entering from the bottom gate by Kew Green the first greenhouse was the Princess of Wales Conservatory. It was named after Princess Augusta, founder of Kew, and opened in 1987 by Diana, Princess of Wales. It is the most complex conservatory at Kew, containing ten computer-controlled climatic zones under one roof. It ranges from desert zones to orchids to carnivorous plants to ….and we had to strip off several layers of our complex clothing as we entered!

This is a wonderful set of orchids being planted on poles within the pond area. We couldn’t quite figure out how it worked initially and then – after the little incident where I dropped my walking stick down onto the pond edge from a height – oops – it landed in an area public are not allowed to walk on, and under many plants –  and the young man kindly rescued it, we found out how they were fixed on. The plants are grown in moss in wire cages with a hook on them. The hook is then hooked onto the wire mesh surrounding the poles and more moss is packed in between the orchids. They will only last around 4 weeks  they said, and then they will need to make a new display! What a lot of work for such a short time, but what a wonderful display…


In the succulent and cacti area I fell for this lovely weeping aloe [I think].

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and then there were the bromeliads.


After quite some time wandering the different climate zones, we put all our gear back on and ventured back into the snow. We had a nice lunch and went to the Palm House – which was built between 1844 and 1848, and is now showing its age somewhat – there is a fund for its restoration in progress even now. It contains the oldest known pot plant a cycad,Encephalartos altensteinii (i), which was collected in the early 1770s from  Eastern Cape region of South Africa, by Kew’s first plant hunter Francis Masson. Look at; we also saw the titan arum – see; this was in its first stage of readiness – the left-most photo on this page. We’ve seen it after a flowering on previous visits, but never actually smelled it – probably just as well from the descriptions!

This rather pretty flower was poking out from behind the plants on one walkway but we couldn’t see its label.

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We also popped our heads into the small greenhouse which keeps all the rock plants and alpines. I couldn’t resist taking some photos of these miniature beauties.

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But this of course was our surprise offer of the day! We resisted going on his guided walking tour though, as we thought he might give us a rather limited (bird’s eye) view….

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Finally. Just to prove the snow, here are some snowdrops poking their heads up…


Now one of the plants growing in the Palm House was a banana and yes those are bananas at the top of the long stalk, and please take your minds out of the gutter – that is a banana flower at the end! The photo is a little blurred because they were misting the greenhouse at the time.

A Banana flower and fruit

A Banana flower and fruit


One thought on “Snow: but it’s warm in the greenhouse!

  1. Mary Frances

    It’s heartening to see beautiful plant life when everything outside seems to be hibernating. And interesting about the orchid display, that does seem like a lot of work for a month, but lovely! Thanks for sharing your adventure.



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