Kew Gardens Festival of Orchids

Kew Gardens Festival of Orchids

Monkeys

This weekend we made the most of the dry weather on Saturday and took a trip to the world famous Kew Gardens in London.  We’re fairly regular visitors to their lovely Wakehurst Place site, but there’s something really special about visiting the main garden in London.

We took the boys for the first time last year and they have often asked to return, so when we realised we had two free adult tickets (as a result of Friends of Wakehurst Place and Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum memberships) AND it was the last weekend of the Festival of Orchids we couldn’t have picked a better time for a Spring visit.

 

 

 

 

Ginger plants

 

We visited the Tropical house first as it is just spectacular and is such an excellent educational resource.  Many of the world’s most important economic crops are found there, with great information boards detailing each one.  The kids were amazed to see Bananas growing in tiny bunches, Pineapples emerging from small shrubby bromeliads, and Vanilla twisting its way through the tree trunks among other unfamiliar plants that were actually familiar foods.  Toby was impressed by the Cycads that have remained little changed from their ancestors who would have provided food for dinosaurs.  The basement aquarium is always a surprise gem tucked away beneath the towering palms, and listening to a robin singing his heart out while sat among the thorns of a Rattan Palm was beautiful and surreal.

 

 

 

Floating orchids

There’s too much to write about in one post, so I’ll save waxing lyrical about Spring flowers for another day and move swiftly on to the Festival of Orchids.  I was expecting a selection of specimen plants in pots, but the display turned out to be breath-taking in scale and inventiveness, with sculptures made from growing plants, soaring towers of orchids and bromeliads, and orchids suspended on wires above our heads as if flying in some magical cloud garden.  The flag of India picked out in flowers and leaves was very cleverly done and complemented the silk-wrapped pillars and themed music playing gently in the background.

 

 

 

 

Tuk Tuk

 

One of the kids favourite things was the moss man riding a Tuk Tuk with orchids for passengers.  The boys love gardens, but I think even kids who don’t normally appreciate the charms of a glass house would be interested in the variety and scale of the displays at Kew.

 

Toby has put in a request that we go and live at Kew Gardens and while that isn’t quite possible I’m certainly hoping we can make regular enough visits to keep us all happy.

 

NB Guide to cost of tickets and travel directions here.

The gardens have good accessibility for pushchairs and wheelchairs in most areas.  There are toilets, including accessible toilets and baby changing facilities.  There are cafes, but these are pricey (£3 for a cup of apple juice for example, so we take a packed lunch).  There are plenty of benches around the gardens for resting younger or older legs, and wheelchairs are available to borrow if required.  There is also an indoor play zone for up to 8 year olds, and an outdoor adventure play area.  There are some ponds and a land train driving around which require vigilance if you have small children, but the site seemed pretty safe on the whole.

 

10 Comments

  • Beshlie-Ann Carver-Carpenter

    9th March 2017 at 11:19 pm Reply

    Never been, and now even more reason to visit now I’ve read your review!

    • admin

      10th March 2017 at 11:00 am Reply

      We had a blast. I have to say I walked a way at first when I saw the cost, but I’m glad we went in in the end. If on a tight budget still lots to see for free in the rest of the museum. We found that driving to Orpington and going from there on the train saved us a fortune over going from more local station (less for a ticket all of us from Orpington than for just one of us going from locally!). We went to Kew first and got there an hour quicker than going by local train too, even after factoring in the drive! We bought a friends and family railcard this year as we plan to visit London at least a couple of times this year and it takes a 3rd off adult tickets and 70% off child tickets.

  • Plutonium Sox

    10th March 2017 at 2:39 pm Reply

    Oh this is somewhere I really want to visit. I love the moss man too, very original! We always prefer to take a packed lunch in the decent weather but sometimes it’s good to have a cafe there in case the weather is awful and you just want to hide inside.
    Nat.x

    • admin

      12th March 2017 at 10:03 pm Reply

      It is lovely there. If your packed lunch gets mysteriously eaten en-route there was a handy bakery stall right outside the station on the day we went that might be there again 🙂 You can eat your sandwiches in the inside play area for small kids I think. The café smelled good but would involve remortgaging the house to feed a family of four!

  • Sonia Cave

    15th March 2017 at 8:19 pm Reply

    This looks like a great place to visit. I love that tuk tuk! #countrykidsfun

    • admin

      17th March 2017 at 12:29 pm Reply

      Thank you:)

  • The Princess and The Pickle

    15th March 2017 at 9:25 pm Reply

    This looks stunning – love the floating orchids! I definitely need to get around to visiting here soon.

    • admin

      17th March 2017 at 12:28 pm Reply

      It was lovely 🙂 It’s worth a visit in the Autumn too when the giant water lilies are in full leaf

  • Fiona Cambouropoulos

    16th March 2017 at 11:46 am Reply

    Orchids are such pretty and colourful flowers. I can imagine a festival of orchids would be a delight to the senses. How lovely that Toby wants to live there, I’m not sure I’d get the same reaction taking my boys to any form of flower festival, I’ve gone wrong in my parenting somewhere! I do love the moss man though and can see why he captured the children’s imaginations. What a lovely looking day to visit, I hope we have more weekends with sunshine like this to come.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    • admin

      17th March 2017 at 12:28 pm Reply

      The glasshouses and gardens are so spectacular I think it would raise a little enthusiasm in even the least interested kid 🙂 Thanks for running the linky xxx

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