Sunday, 17 October 2010

Raising the roof

One of the joys of living just down the road from Kew Gardens is that we can pop in for an hour or two whenever we want.  So a sunny day and visit from a friend was more than enough of an excuse to warrant a visit.  Normally when we visit we spend a lot of time in the green houses, but given the weather we decided to take a slow amble around the gardens themselves. Like many gardens the change of seasons meant that a lot of the beds were past their best and others had been dug up to swap from the summer to winter planting.

Obviously we couldn't not visit the green houses so in our wandering we took in the alpine house and the Princess of Wales house where the succulent collection is.  Walking through is a graphic reminder of how big some of my plants could get.  I tend to forget that many aloes and agaves grow in huge plants several meters across (let alone the tree aloes).  This one is still growing and if mine got to this size it would take up half my garden.

The sad thing about agaves is that once they reach this spectacular size they then flower, putting all their energy into one final flourish before dying.  Agave flower spikes in the UK used to be a real novelty but there are now enough older collections that it is not unusual to see at least one flower spike when visiting these gardens.

However no matter how often you see them,  the sight of a tree-like flower stem towering above the plant is always awe inspiring.  They are not without their problems though and even Kew is not immune to the problems a 30 foot flower spike causes.  It does make for some unusual photos.


  1. Ha! Great photos....and I've always wondered about the Kew, do they have a nursery on site where you can buy plants?

  2. DG: Sadly they do have a nursery but they buy the plants in and they are the ones you can find in any nursery, many are not even named just mixed succulents.

  3. Wish I lived close enough to drop in. Roll on old age, RHS subscription and tea and rock buns on tap