When to visit Kew Gardens?

Aug 29th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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When to visit Kew Gardens?

I'll be in Oxford again from September 2006 -September 2007. I meant to visit Kew Gardens the last time but didn't. Now that I have a full year, what month is the best to visit?
JoeTro is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Housing the largest living plant collection in the world
I think anytime in warm weather there are lots of outdoor blooms but since the star attractions seem to be in Hothouses a visit anytime of year would be interesting.
PalQ is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 10:55 AM
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I'm not sure the season matters that much if you're based in Oxford.

Just get the Oxford Espress to Hillingdon, then the tube: there's really little need to be sparing of how often you go, since you can type your essays up on the bus, and do research on something at the National Archives, which are as close to Kew tube as the Gardens. The whole trip takes less than 90 mins - or will, once they've sorted the Headington roundabout.

Least impressive time: autumn. Foliage isn't a big thing here, and it's better in a Cotswold or Chiltern wood anyway. Spring's fine, but Oxford's got great bulbs all over the place, and some of Oxfordshire's amazing atttractions - like the fritillary meadow at Ducklington or Magdalen Fellows' Garden at the beginning of the fritillary season - aren't represented in Kew at all. Kew's bluebells are really there for people who don't have stuff just as good on their own doorstep.

The big points of Kew, if you're surrounded by the wonders of the English countryside anyway, are the serious exotica - the stuff in the palm houses and the other glass bits - and they're mostly non-seaasonal. The other point is the newly-restored Palace - and of course the architecture of Kew itself.

So the best time is probably midwinter, when Oxford and the surrounding areas are at their dullest from a crop point of view: Kew was FAB last Christmas. Oddly, having a Chihuly exhibition all round Kew really helped. But then, Britain is stuffed roumd Christmas with Xmas Specials like that. Blenheim's Xmas decorations are as bombastic and over-priced as the place always is the rest of the year. But Waddesdon, for a couple of weeks just before Christmas, is briefly worth the slog.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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Thanks, Flanner. I hadn't considered stopping at Hillington; that's a good tip. You are right that I could go more than once, but if I did only want to go once, what would the best time be, is my question. I guess you are suggesting before XMAS, which is definitely possible for me. I was thinking that maybe fall or spring would be best, but maybe now not fall.
JoeTro is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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For most people, autumn and spring are the best, because most people don't have sublime English countryside a few minutes' walk along the Cherwell or the Oxford canal.

For those lucky enough to have all that to hand, it would be Kew's research facilities that are most interesting. After all, you've not only got Oxford's own Botanic Gardens (more interesting in their way than the Johnny-come-lately in Richmond), but this autumn they're part of the Oxford Leonardo extravaganza.

And if you miss that, you really are wasting your time there.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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Wow, thanks so much for that tip about Leonardo. It looks like this is what you are referring to:

At Oxford Botanic Gardens, Leonardo’s Plants runs from August 9 until September 30 2006, whilst Leonardo’s Mathematical Arts will be explored at the Museum of the History of Science from September 14 until November 5 2006. Christ Church Picture Gallery also will hold an exhibition of drawings, whilst the Ashmolean Museum plays host to Imaging Leonardo – again, both exhibtions run from September 14 until November 5 2006.

I did visit the Botanic Gardens in 2005 but I will definitely have to go back now, as well as to the other sights. Thanks for that tip!
JoeTro is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 09:20 AM
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JoeTro is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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You are so lucky - I know you got a lot out of living in Oxford last year. You will be so close I'd make an effort to visit Kew a couple of times.

Once in early to mid Spring for all the gorgeous spring flowers. And again on a nice summer day (but not on a weekend if you can avoid it) when there are riots of colour.

But if you are really into gardens - I would definitely try my best to get to RHS Wisley. It is amazing. Last I time I went was June a couple of years ago and I could have so easily spent 10-12 hours there. As it was I only had 5 hours - it is HUGE and 4 or 5 hours would be about minimum.
janisj is online now  
Aug 30th, 2006, 09:45 AM
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We were last there in late May. The roses weren't quite in bloom yet, and the early spring flowers were done. I would like to visit again a few weeks earlier or later.
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