Wanting to see some sights but not spend a good chunk of the day in the car to do so, we checked out a nearby landmark, the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, which lie just about 3 miles away. Being a "Royal" garden, it isn't squeezed into a small patch of earth between two pubs. Rather, it has gardens, groves, and greenhouses (among other things) spread out over its 300+ acres.
Some highlights of the visit:
- Checking out the Palm House, in which was housed a coco-de-mer palm, a variety that produces the largest seed in the world (up to 40 pounds), and the world's oldest potted plant, a giant cycad originally harvested and potted in 1773 from South Africa, and arrived in England in 1775.
- Seeing the amazon waterlilies (probably about 4' in diameter) and redwoods (maybe just 1/3 in size compared to the ones in CA, but still very impressive.)
- Walking through the Temperate House was impressive for not only its contents, but its structure: it is the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse (i.e. greenhouse) in the world, covering 5,850 square yards and extending to 63 feet high. With those dimensions, it is for good reason that a Chilean Wine Palm resides here... at 58' high, it is believed to be the largest indoor plant in the world.
- Watching Chloe doing her flower sketches as we walked around.
- Learning things, like... bamboos are actually a grass, and the fastest growing woody plants in the world (some can go from seedling to about 8' in around 16 days); and there are about 600 species of carnivorous plants.
(Pictures, top to bottom, click to enlarge: PnC and the amazon waterlilies; Chloe inspecting one of her subjects; the Temperate House (this picture shows about half the building); and could this perhaps be the germination of Chloe's interest in plants?)