Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kew Wednesdays, the Palm House

Once again I’ve come away from an outstanding Botanical Garden with too many photos to squeeze into just one or two posts. You know what that means! Its Kew Wednesdays for the rest of the year (kidding...just barely), today we start at the Palm House.

We’d planned to visit Kew on Monday; however the weather forecast was horrible, extreme wind and rain. So we switched and went to the British Museum instead, thank god as we learned that night the Kew had taken the unusual step of closing for the day. Not only had the grounds taken a beating from the weather but a visitor to the gardens had been killed by a falling branch. We felt lucky not only to have escaped the extreme weather but not to have made the 40 minute train excursion out to the garden, only to be turned away. When Tuesday dawned with only slightly cloudy skies I felt truly blessed.

The Palm House was constructed between 1844 and 1848…“experts consider Kew’s Palm House as the most important surviving Victorian iron and glass structure in the world. It was designed to accommodate the exotic palms being collected and introduced to Europe in early Victorian times. The project was pioneering, as it was the first time engineers had used wrought iron to span such large widths without supporting columns. This technique was borrowed from the shipbuilding industry; from a distance the glasshouse resembles an upturned hull.” (source)

Inside it was a jungle.

Since the Palm House closed early on Tuesdays it was our first stop, and OMG, I could barely breathe while we were inside. I have no nudist tendencies (you’re welcome) but I was stripping off layers as we walked though. It had to be upwards of 110 degrees with 98% humidity. I thought I was going to pass out. That physical level of discomfort combined with my excitement of actually being at Kew had me flitting around like a hummingbird. It’s a wonder any of these photos turned out! Sadly I didn’t focus much on long establishing shots, photos of the structure or even plant names. I wish I could do it all over again! Here are the best of the photos I took inside the Palm House…

Musa acuminata 'Dwarf Cavendish'

'Parrots Flower' Heliconia psittacorum

I love the look of this epiphytic "moss"...

Plumeria inodora bloom.

Dioon spinulosum, this plant produces the largest cones of any known plant, living or extinct.

Aiphanes eggersii...such amazing spikes!

Zamia pseudomonticola

Alocasia macrorrhizos

Ceratozamia miquelian

Pandanus vandermeeschii, at the bottom...

Pandanus vandermeeschii, at the top...

Gustavia superba

Encephalartos (not sure which species)

Close up...

If someone said to you "this is the oldest pot plant in the world" would you think of a Cycad? Exactly.

But it is! (the oldest container plant) Can you imagine the responsibility of keeping this bad boy alive?

Pritchardia elliptica

Pavonia x. gledhillii flowers in front of Pritchardia elliptica leaves.


Aiphanes minima, there are even spikes on the fronds...

Aiphanes minima, love this plant.

Look up! Largest plant in the Palm House. Sadly there were no monkeys.

Attalea butyracea

Zingiber spectabile

Hemigraphis repanda, such a purple to exist in nature.

Salacca ramosiana, I had no idea the Palm House was going to be so spiky!

Sommeria elegans

This is the view down one of the side "arms" of the building from up in the catwalk around the top bits of the Palm House.

Looking down on the plants...

It was only from above that I spotted my Palm House plant crush...(well, besides all the spikes!) Cecropia glaziovii, aren't those leaves amazing?

Looking down the other "arm"...

And getting ready to go back down the stairs.

Like I said, it was a jungle in there.

Later as we walked past the Palm House en-route to another part of the garden I captured my favorite view the building, as the outlines of the plants inside became visible.

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