London’s Parks – 2

There are many other city parks to visit besides the Royal parks. In Part 1 of this article, we saw each of several special city parks has an element of uniqueness which makes it worthy to consider in an international visitor’s London itinerary. This next park is super important.

ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS AT KEW – This second half of this article series deals only with Kew Gardens as they are so phenomenal and are designated as a World Heritage Site.

On the grounds of a former royal home for King George III’s children, the Kew Gardens have over 30,000 important plants growing there. It really is a botanical ark. There are even tropical plants like banana, paw-paw, breadfruit and coffee which are growing safely and successfully in their six, massive greenhouses. Many of the collections’ 14,000 trees are housed inside them, under glass.

Other important areas include a huge 18th Century Chinese Pagoda tower giving you an overview of some of the garden. Since May 2008, there’s a new walk through the tree canopy in part of the grounds; it’s called the Xstrata Treetop Walkway.

The Victorian Palm House glass conservatory is yet another famous destination. The Princess of Wales conservatory (which was named for Augusta, mother of George III), holds 10 different biomes under one roof, and the Climbers and Creepers section has an area for children to play in.

There are extra fees to take the tram-ride (which has 8 stops); most visitors feel this is a good choice,  although many feel the general entrance fees are pricey. But, please understand that, unlike other gardens, Kew is not dealing with native English plants, or even European plants. Regard the higher entrance fees as your contribution to an important Botanical Ark! That’s what Kew really is, exactly.

This garden is a massive undertaking, with professional experience needed from the gardeners and scientists involved, and a huge supply chain to keep these specimens alive and thriving.

Many specimens were decimated or lost in the Great Storm of 1987, so the collection needed to be restored, too, as well as being even better protected than before.

At the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, scientists are spearheading a “Breathing Planet Programme” which is meant to help our planet regenerate and help all Life survive. Plants, alone, manufacture the oxygen which all Life needs every second. So, we must ensure every region’s plants can survive well to do that job, and that each plant has the conditions and protection it needs to propagate in the wild. Right now, at least 25% of the world’s botanical species already require protective help and inclusion in seed banks! Conservation requires money and skill and dedication from everyone.

And Kew is also striving to be in the forefront of new sciences, like Restorative Ecology. Remember, first and foremost, Kew’s collection is for science and for the future. We are blessed to be able to enjoy it in some small way, but its greater calling is leading a network to save the richness and diversity of our planet. Support their effort any and every way you can, and delight in the beautiful world we need to protect and restore.

Read Part 1:
In London: Battersea Park, Chelsea Physic Garden, Painshill Park, Syon Park, Thames Barrier Park

©2009 Mystic at TravelVacationReview