Making time for tea at Kew Gardens

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kew Gardens is a magical place. It's an oasis in the hustle and bustle of London, offering an escape that takes you around the world as you visit the greenhouses, ponds and tearooms.

Sometimes you just have to take an afternoon off work and explore London's corners, visiting places like Kew which remind you that you're not holed up in an urban jungle.

Luckily, last week I had an excuse to head Kew-Wards.This is my friend Richard, and we decided to spend his last day in London visiting Kew Gardens. On our way, we met a really bizarre man on the train who noticed that we were all wearing the same shoes. He also confessed that he owned 25 pairs of said shoes, so I suppose he often meets people wearing the same ones.

I've become really interested in textures and patterns in my design work, and what better place to take inspiration from, than from nature herself?

The geometrics are fabulous, and the colour combinations all make their way from my camera into my designs as websites, drawings and paintings. So really, it's more of a reconnaissance mission for work than an afternoon off. Really.

There's something about being surrounded by all of this natural wonder that makes you feel just a little more alive than you do when you're inside the bricks and mortar of London. Whether it's all the symmetry (which I love), the shades and colours, the vistas of rolling lawns - or just the fresh air.

Even the sculptures dotted in and around the gardens feel as if they have been incorporated into the environment, in a way that makes them come alive.

These giant water lilies are my favourite feature. They are the most enormous water lily pads you have ever seen! This pond is filled with black water (dyed) to prevent algae from growing. There are many types of water lilies and flowers in the pond, and thousands of little fish.

You get the distinct impression that they'd be strong enough to hold a person - and look: I found an old photo of a little girl sitting all aplomb atop a solid water lily pad, circa 1900.

Even the interiors are overgrown and beautiful. This reminds me of the greenhouse (?) from the movie 5 Children and IT.

On the far end of Kew are the magical Oriental Gardens - it's as if you have stepped out of the noise of the Big Smoke and stepped into the quiet of a Japanese tea garden.

... and if you're quiet enough, and patient, you might just happen upon the place where the fairies visit! Doesn't it look like the foot of the Faraway Tree?

And then it started raining. The peacocks didn't mind, but it certainly took us out of our reverie and shuffled us into the nearest tea shop.

Thank goodness there's always tea!

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