Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kew Wednesdays: The Princess of Wales Conservatory, Part 1

The sky had been teasing us throughout our day at Kew, sun one moment, clouds the next followed by a downpour. As we walked up to the Princess of Wales Conservatory the sky turned dark and sprinkles started to fall.

All the better to have a little dramatic weather to accompany our arrival at this rather remarkable building and the fabulous plantings around it.

From the Kew website… “The Princess of Wales Conservatory was commissioned in 1982 to replace a group of 26 smaller buildings that were falling into disrepair. It was named after Princess Augusta, founder of Kew, and opened in 1987 by Diana, Princess of Wales. It is the most complex conservatory at Kew, containing ten computer-controlled climatic zones under one roof.”

“The two main climate zones are the ‘dry tropics’, representing the world’s warm, arid areas, and the ‘wet tropics’, housing moisture loving plants from ecosystems such as rainforests and mangrove swamps. The eight remaining microclimates include a seasonally dry zone containing desert and savanna plants, plus sections for carnivorous plants, ferns and orchids.”

I really thought I was paying more attention to the climactic zones and would be able to tell you when we passed from one to another, but I was wrong. I just got caught up in the beauty of the plants and failed to catalogue what section we were in. Hopefully you can relate…

Must be a Dasilyrion, I didn't see a label.

Even though I completely forgot about this small crevice garden when I did my post on the topic, it must have been part of the impetus for my thinking about them

Notice the painted backdrop, the desert goes on forever, all the way to the mountains!

When we first entered the conservatory many of the top vents were open, however as the rain picked up they started to close.The sound of the rain falling on the glass and the creaking of the gears closing the vents would make the perfect soundtrack to a scary movie...I felt as though the building was coming alive.

Yucca queretaroensis

Yucca queretaroensis, close-up!

Aloe sessiliflora

Aloe arborescens variegata

Dracaena cinnabari

Dracaena schizantha

Euphorbia fortissima

Euphorbia fortissima, close-up

LOVE this scene. I think I need to plant my Echium wildpretti in groups from now on! If the darn things just wouldn't bloom...

Selenicereus anthonyanus, quite possibly the coolest ground cover ever!

Titan arum. We were too late for the flower but this is just as good in my book!

Thunbergia mysorensis

Rhizophora 'Red Mangrove'

Here's an example of the signs I should have been taking a picture of with each zone we entered and left. That way I could have given you a much better tour!

We entered the conservatory in the desert and wound our way through the various zones and are now back at where we started, only on a different path. Quiabentia verticillata...crazy polka dots!

These remind me of the fabric versions I've seen. They almost look more fake than real.

The white plant, on the left...

This guy...

Is old!

That's it for Part 1! Next week in Part 2 of the Princess of Wales Conservatory we visit the Bromeliad section. While you can imagine I was perfectly at home in the desert (and took the bulk of my photos there) I was captivated by the different shapes and colors of the Bromeliads and could have spent an entire day just staring at them!

If you want to look back at past Kew Wednesdays posts: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4

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