For this year’s New Year’s Eve, Dave and I wanted to do something a little different and decided to celebrate the end of 2016 during the day with a spontaneous visit to Kew Gardens. I received some vouchers for my birthday from friends, which were going to expire soon, so it was the perfect time to go. We were hoping to catch the last of the festivities there but, unfortunately, the Christmas stalls weren’t in full swing anymore! Nonetheless, it still ended up being a lovely way to say goodbye to another great year together. Our day started super early with a 7:30am coach journey from Ringwood, most of which was spent snoozing and trying not to ruin my makeup! When we arrived in Victoria, all we had to do was hop on the westbound District line heading for Richmond, and get off at the penultimate stop for Kew Gardens. Super easy. I studied in London for a year, almost six years ago now, and it felt like I spent most of my time on the tube, so it’s quite handy to know it well whenever I return to the capital. We had a quick breakfast in Starbucks in Kew before making our way over to Kew Gardens to explore!
Upon arrival, we were directed towards the Palm House, which is a huge greenhouse full of tropical plants from all around the world. Inside, it was incredibly humid, with water spritzers showering the interior every few seconds, imitating the climate of tropical countries. I was quite glad as I was having a dry hair day and this definitely helped add some moisture to it haha. Dave, on the other hand, had vague flashbacks of the humidity in Thailand and did not enjoy it as much! It was really interesting walking around and finding out where different plants originate from. We came across a lot of hibiscus and palm trees, as well as a baby pineapple, which was just too adorable for words – so naturally, I had to stop to take a photo. We climbed the beautiful ornate staircase spiralling up to the ceiling, from where we had an incredible view over the entire greenhouse. Being up there was really refreshing, with the water sprinklers setting off near us and light streaming through the glass. It felt as if we had climbed up to the canopy of a rainforest. The lighting was also outstanding there!
Having finally had enough of the humidity, we left the Palm House and wandered around the beautiful grounds of Kew Gardens, on our way to our next stop. The lake looked incredibly majestic and created the most beautiful reflections in the water. We even spotted a peacock taking a Sunday stroll and tried our hardest not to scare him away, although I have to admit, I was probably more scared of him! Although it was misty and grey, it was still very scenic and lovely to look around.
Princess of Wales Conservatory
Next on our tour of Kew Gardens was a conservatory full of all sorts of different and wonderful cacti. Ever since I was little, I’ve had a little obsession with these plants so I was really excited to see so many of them in one place, all grouped with their families. My favourite were probably the ones that looked like giant watermelons with really painful-looking spikes. There’s just something that really draws me to cacti and the way that they can protect themselves from predators even though they are plants! Within this building, there was also a room full of carnivorous plants. Dave had a great time there but I moved swiftly through it since it was all a little too sinister for me. Plus, it was very cold in that room for some reason. It was really interesting to walk around the different tropical zones and oddly enough, it wasn’t as hot as it was in the Palm House.
Rock Garden and Davies Alpine House
Tucked away next to the Princess of Wales Conservatory, this little area is home to lots of different plants and rocks from around the world. It was really peaceful here and made a nice break from the main attractions. The glasshouse is full of alpine plants that can be found in the mountains, and the interesting economical design of the buildings means that it emulates the conditions of mountains that the plants need to survive. I found some really pretty, colourful flowers there, and I love how the glasshouse was lit up to create a really nice glow.
Originally, I thought this was going to be an enclosure with bees inside so we were both quite apprehensive! However, it turned out to be more of a sensory representation of a beehive and the importance of honey bees and pollination. Usually, I am not a fan of metal constructions but this was really pretty since it had lots of colourful lights and an interesting outline. Inside, it felt really open and airy, with ambient music that added to the calm vibe. Being a huge fan of ambient music and anything a little bit different, Dave was really in his element here!
Although the Palace was closed for winter, we were still able to admire it from the outside and walk around its beautiful royal gardens at the back. It was all so pretty and symmetrical with a really quaint charm to it that reminded me a little of Alice in Wonderland! By this point, it had started drizzling a little but we knew we didn’t have too long left before we had to head back. It would be lovely to return when the Palace is open again and see its grand interior.
Out of the huge selection of attractions at Kew Gardens, we only saw a handful in the few hours we had, so this is definitely the kind of place you need a whole day to see! Since we had to get the coach back in the afternoon, we had to miss out on a few things that we were looking forward to seeing, such as the Treetop Walkway. However, this means that we’ll definitely return soon, most likely in the summer when it’s much warmer and more colourful! The photo above was taken near the exit, where there is huge gift shop with lots of plants and seeds to buy to create your own pretty garden at home.
This was such a fun day out and a really lovely way to celebrate the end of 2016. Have you been to Kew Gardens before? We did plan to have a drink at a local pub in the New Forest when we returned but we were so tired from walking around all day that we decided to just stay in and have some wine and party food from M&S! It honestly ended up being one of my favourite New Year’s Eves! How did you spend NYE this year? I’d love to hear about what you got up to and how you said goodbye to 2016!