So if there’s one thing I can say about England, it is that they have some amazing gardens. Perhaps it’s because of all the rain they get as being part of an island or maybe it’s just that every native Brit has a green thumb. Either way my experience shows me that there is no garden like an English garden. Knowing this I naturally had to make a trip out to the Eden of English gardens, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. To make it easier for you to read and for me to write, I’ll simply be calling these gardens by the name Kew Gardens, as most people do in England do.
The first step on my adventure was going out to Kew. It was a bit of a long ride even though it’s still technically in the city, but it’s worth it. Because I underestimated my travel time I missed the group I was supposed to be meeting with which simply meant I had to enjoy the gardens on my own. I was off to a strong start and first went to the Palm House. This green house had hundreds of different exotic palm plants. there were ginormous palm trees with ginormous palm leaves to match. After that I sort of wondered the gardens aimlessly. I figured that I’d eventually just run into everything and that I didn’t need to use my map. I was very very wrong.
You see Kew Gardens is quite expansive. It’s 300 acres of land in total. I didn’t realize the size of these gardens until i had been walking in theme for a bit. I spent about 5 hours there and I only got through about one half to two thirds of everything there was to see. There were so many different types of plants and green houses. I walked through a miniature bamboo forest. I sauntered through the rose garden which had a tea party set in the middle of it. I couldn’t help but think of Alice and Wonderland when I saw this. I may have sang “We’re painting the roses red” to myself as I passed by. I found a small grove of towering California Redwoods, so I even got a taste of my home country. I witnessed in real life the Queen’s Lily Pads. For hose who don’t know the Queen’s Lily Pads are lily pads bred to be quite large. In fact, they’re so large they could probably fit a 10 year old on them. They would of course sink because they aren’t buoyant enough to hold something that heavy, but if they were they could be personal rafts. One of the coolest things I saw in the Gardens was a giant Chinese style pagoda. You couldn’t go in to the top for a view but that’s alright because they had a treetop walkway. The walkway connects and passes through several trees. It’s a lot higher up than I expected it to be and you can get a good view of the park from the spot.
One thing I was quite surprised to find at the Gardens was Kew Palace. This was King George the Third’s personal palace. It was often used by George and his family for vacation and it was also where he retreated during his bouts of mental illness. I visit this palace and found it quite lovely. It might have been my favorite part of the trip to Kew, but not because of the building itself. I loved it so much because of who I met there. There were of course many actors in costume who would answer questions if you had asked any of them. I was curious about some of the architecture so I walked up to one and asked him a question. He answered me and I got him to break character so that I could have a long talk about history with him. We spoke for almost a half hour and we both learned a lot from each other. I was mostly concerned with questions about the American Revolution because George the Third was king at the time of it . Also being an American, I was quite interested in the topic. He referred to it as the American Rebellion rather than Revolution and mentioned how it isn’t a majorly discussed topic in classes. I found this funny because I remember spending almost a whole quarter on the topic in grade school. I also learned that George the Third was not ill at the time of the war as many portray him to be. He didn’t have bouts of mental illness till about a decade or so after the Revolution. He also didn’t do much of the decision making when it came to the war. At this point in history, Parliament had most of the power and the Crown was practically the powerless figurehead it is today. He would even get blamed for the loss of the colonies by the English, when in fact Parliament didn’t listen to almost any of his recommendations on how to win the war.
More important, though, than learning some interesting facts is that I made a human connection that day. I crossed cultures by talking to this man. We didn’t only learn, but we enjoyed each others companies. We laughed and had a few jokes at each other’s and our own expense. We broke past the preconceived stereotypes we may have had for one another and simply talked. You never know what you’ll experience or learn when you enjoy a nice chat with a friendly stranger.
So if you love flower, trees, cool architecture, and crossing cultural boundaries by way of a chat or two I would definitely recommend going to Kew Gardens. It was an amazing place. Also, keep in mind there are tons of other gardens through out London and England. I would definitely get to any of them that you can. They’re all quite beautiful and usually very well kept. I guess the English are born with a green thumb after all.