All photos of Kew Gardens dated 2015-2016 are the actual ones and were taken with iPhone 5s.
Royal Botanical Garden in Kew were former royal gardens which were given to the nation in 1841. Here you will find the largest collection of living plants comprising more than thirty thousand kinds. Kew itself is huge to explore with over 300 acres of land, plant houses, ornamental buildings, museums, galleries and gardens, a few restaurants and the smallest royal palace, Kew Palace.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that comprises 4 Grade I and 36 Grade II listed buildings. Kew is a fantastic host to not only the botanical gardens and its many buildings but also a large number of events and festivals, so check out what’s on schedule and enjoy a themed trip to Kew Gardens.
Personally, I’ve been to Kew Gardens twice.
The first time I attended an event in the summer of 2014 – it was organized by the Japan Society to celebrate Tanabata, a Japanese Star festival.
I learnt about the story of Tanabata. Orihime, a masterful weaver falls in love with Hikoboshi who works in the field. They get married. The two lovers are separated by Orihime’s father because, consumed by their love for each other, they forget about their duties. But Orihime slips into depression as she misses her husband, so her father gives in and allows them to meet up once a year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. They are represented by two stars with the Milky way separating them.
During the workshops, I learnt Japanese calligraphy and wrote a tanzaku, a wish you write during the Tanabata festival and hang on the bamboo tree.
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I also learnt the art of origami and visited the Minka House, a traditional Japanese farmhouse which originally stood in a suburb of Okazaki City. It was donated to Kew in 2001 by Japan Minka Reuse and Recycle Association.
After the festival I had lunch in one of the restaurants and finished the trip by exploring the some of the conservatories and gardens.
I popped briefly into Kew Palace, where they have very knowledgeable volunteers ready to provide you with historical information about artifacts on the display and history of the palace.
Just before Christmas I visited Kew Gardens again for their special evening Christmas promenade. The trees and buildings are lit up with decorations and you follow an illuminated path along its many alleys. Various performances are organized for families with children.
There are plenty of opportunities to get warm with a glass of mulled wine, burn marshmallows over a fire, go on a merry-go-round and generally soak in a majestic atmosphere of the garden in the dark.
It is both a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an evening with friends or family, or treat it as a romantic trip – there is a special mistletoe stand where you can kiss your other half.