6 Things Not To Miss at Kew Gardens

Spiral staircase at The Palm House Kew Gardens

When it comes to welcoming the change of seasons in London, there’s nowhere better than the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew. The horticultural haven spans a 250 year history and, boasting over 300 acres, is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over 20 years after acquiring the site in 1731, the Prince and dowager Princess of Wales created a garden for exotic plants. By 1769, the garden was home to 3,400 plant species.

Today, there’s more than 30,000. There’s no doubt that Kew Gardens has made and continues to make a significant contribution to the study of botany.

From blossom in Spring to autumnal colours in the arboretum, Kew Gardens is a botanical escape from Central London that’s worth visiting multiple times of the year. While the gardens are home to many hidden pieces of landscape design to find at your own pace, there are a few popular things to do at Kew that absolutely need to feature on your list.

1. Explore The Palm House

Kew is famous around the world for its impressive glasshouses which include plant species that are endangered and extinct in the natural world. Constructed in 1844, The Palm House is an important resource for the Gardens’ scientists, and for visitors, it’s almost like stepping into a humid, lush jungle. Push past the giant leaves and climb the beautiful Victorian spiral staircases to get a glimpse of the top of the canopy. It goes without saying that this spot is one for the ‘gram.

2. Visit The Prince of Wales Conservatory

The Prince of Wales is Kew Gardens’ patron and his namesake conservatory contains ten different climate zones. For fans of the indoor gardening and house plant trend, this Kew attraction is cacti and succulent heaven. Though, also worth admiring are the huge lily pads that can reach up to two metres in diameter. You’ll find more lily pads in The Waterlily House near The Palm House.

Lilypads at The Prince of Wales Conservatory Kew

3. Have Tea at The Orangery

A trip to Kew isn’t complete without a slice of cake at The Orangery. The restaurant/cafe housed in this 18th century building also serves warm breakfasts and pastries. Its sunny patio is a great place to start or finish your day.

4. Get Inspired at The Plant Family Beds

If you know your visit to Kew will leave you feeling green fingered, The Plant Family Beds, a traditionally British walled garden is a must-visit. While the glass houses are botanical bliss, they’re not something you can realistically replicate back home. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or allotment, this area of Kew has plants living alfresco in the Great British weather. If you prefer your veg plot over peonies and roses, the Student Vegetable Plots are in the same area. Get advice from first year Kew Diploma students and buy some produce grown on royal soil, if you’re lucky enough to visit when they’re doing a veg sale.

5. Wander the Treetop Walkway

For a very different view of a canopy of trees, ascend the 18 metre high Treetop Walkway that overlooks the Temperate House. Nestled in the arboretum, the contrast of trees and leaves with towering skyscrapers in the distance is an another must-see at Kew, especially during Autumn.

Treetop Walkway Kew in Autumn

6. Discover The Temperate House

After years of renovation, the Temperate House reopened to the public in May 2018. At twice the size of the Palm House, it’s the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse. As the name suggests, plants from the temperate region (that’s Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands) are safeguarded here.

Steeped in history and science, The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew are as much an educational day out as they are a place to picnic, walk and breathe fresher air. Spend a few slow hours here and you’ll leave with a better connection to nature and the knowledge that you’ve made a small contribution to the protection of our planet’s biodiversity. Not bad for a Sunday, right?

Other things to do in the Borough of Richmond: Petersham Nurseries

Slow-Going Sundays at Victoria Park Market

What does your perfect slow Sunday look like? For many of us, Sunday is the nominated day of the week for kicking things down a notch, relaxing and enjoying the little things. But, you don’t need to escape the city to experience a slow Sunday.

One of the best places to embrace a slow Sunday in London is at one of the city’s markets. While Columbia Road Flower Market has long been a Sunday institution for Londoners, it’s always worth keeping an eye on newer markets popping up at the weekends. One of the best new additions to the city’s Sunday market scene is Victoria Park Market.

Punnets of plums at Victoria Park Market, London

Three Reasons to Visit Victoria Park Market

Victoria Park Market opened in June 2017 and runs along a leafy pedestrianised street between Bonner Gate and Gore Gate. This street called The Nightwalk, welcomes around 50 traders every Sunday, including those selling traditional farmer’s market fare and hot food.

1. The Setting

Victoria Park is one of London’s most picturesque parks, complete with scenic canal boats, a Chinese pagoda and a boating lake. You can easily combine a trip to the market with a stroll around the park, or even a picnic during the warmer months.

Victoria Park Canal, London

2. The Space

Unlike other markets in London, especially those that are indoors, Victoria Park Market is spacious and much less crowded. There’s no fighting for elbow room here; you can happily zig-zag down The Nightwalk at your leisure. While it’s a true slow market, it is growing in popularity, so don’t leave it too late if you have something in mind to put on the table for tea.

3. The Choice

Aside from the general benefits of market shopping (supporting small producers, eating in-season food with provenance and embracing much less plastic packaging that at the supermarket), Victoria Park Market has a really good variety of traders. From macarons to dog treats and gyoza, you’d be a very strong-willed person to leave with your tote bag empty. You can even pick up all the ingredients for your roast dinner, as well as a hearty hangover cure in the hot food section. Those monster grilled cheese sandwiches ought to do the job.

Why not make Victoria Park Market your next slow Sunday pittstop?

What You Need To Know:

  • Address: 56-57 Gore Rd, London E9 7HN (via Bonner Gate)
  • Nearest Station: Bethnal Green
  • When? 10am-4pm every Sunday
  • Card or Cash? A mix of both. Some stalls only take card

Sustainability and Slow Living at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond

With almost 100,000 Instagram followers, Petersham Nurseries is one of London’s worst kept secrets.

The elegant-meets-boho lifestyle concept combines eclectic interior products with lush plants and renowned food. But if you’ve only visited the newer Covent Garden branch that opened its doors in 2017, you’re missing out.

Petersham Nuseries’ original location, just beyond the heart of picturesque Richmond-upon-Thames, is delightfully tucked away. It’s nestled alongside the River Thames – a stone’s throw from Richmond Park, famed for its grazing deer. It creates a slow and (almost) bucolic escape for those in need of respite from capital city life, especially when choosing to arrive by foot across the footpaths, as the owners encourage.

While Petersham Nurseries’ Instagram-worthy asesthics and laidback luxury feel are undeniable, there are a host of even more meaningul and slow-inspired reasons to make it that little bit further to Richmond.

Petersham Nurseries Shop

Exploring Sustainablity and Slow Living at Petersham Nurseries

1. It’s a Family Affair

Petersham Nurseries is a true family business. Gael and Francesco Boglione moved from central London to Richmond a little over 20 years ago. They later acquired the plant nursery bordering their home when it was threatened by developers. Instead of welcoming a plot of new builds for neighbours, the Bogliones slowly created a vision, blending the nursery with their past experience of buying and selling unusual furniture. Today the Boglione’s children are at the forefront of the brand’s ethos and its story. The experience of visiting Petersham Nurseries in Richmond is as carefully curated as the plants they stock.

Plants at Petersham Nurseries

2. Slow Food First

Alongside the popular tea room, Petersham Nurseries offers an Italian-inspired restaurant that respects the philosophy behind the slow food movement. This philosophy, formed by Carlo Petrini, was born in Italy in the 1980s. It has since evolved into an ethos that encourages the protection of local food traditions and promotes good, clean and fair food production. Good meaning flavoursome and of quality; clean meaning the processes involved do not harm or limit harm to the environment and finally; fair meaning fair conditions and compensation for food producers. The seaonsal ingredients that fill Petersham Nurseries’ menus are sustainably sourced and waste is kept minimal. This conscious and natural approach is extended across all areas of the business, including to staff travel.

Spiral staircase at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond

3. In Tune with Nature

Positive living and reconnecting with nature forms a key part of the brand’s ethos. They hope to encourage visitors to draw inspiration from the beauty of nature and experience positive living through consideration of the environment. While popular, Petersham is peaceful. It’s the perfect place to find escapism, breathe fresher air and get a dose of greenery.

We hope to have created a place of calm, somewhere that respects and is in tune with nature and positive living– Lara Boglione, today’s Manager Director of Petersham Nurseries.

So, in addition to offering flora and fauna to frazzled city-goers, Petersham Nurseries and the Boglione family prove that a successful business model on both the outskirts and in the very heart of a capital city can work with, and not against, sustainable ethics. In fact, it’s arguably the commitment to these very principles, and of course, an incredible eye for sourcing beautiful things, that has owed to the continued success of the Petersham brand.

The Beautiful Allotment Summer Pop-Up in Hoxton

Always on the hunt for slow places to explore in London? The next place to add to your list this summer is Beautiful Allotment at The Geffrye Museum in Hoxton. This English country garden-style drinking and eating space has been brought to us by Bourne & Hollingsworth, the creative lifestyle company who work hard to create unique pop-ups and interiors-led social spaces.

Beautiful Allotment Geffrye Museum, Hoxton

Set in the beautiful courtyard of the Geffrye Museum, this planty pop-up is a serene escape from busy Shoreditch around the corner. Place your drinks order at the wooden pottings sheds. Then, choose from sofas, day beds, poly tunnels, deck chairs, and even a treehouse, to sip on their botanical-inspired cocktails and tuck into their locally-sourced BBQ food.  You can spend the afternoon nestled amongst vegetable patches and hay bales, watching volunteer gardeners slowly make their way around the gardens, tending to the tomatoes and rainbow chard. It’s rustic with an informal atmosphere, perfect for a relaxed get-together with friends.

Geffrye Museum Pop-Up Garden in Hoxton

Botanical Cocktails at Beautiful Allotment

What You Need To Know:

  • Address: Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA
  • Nearest Station: Hoxton
  • When? 25th July – 26th August, Wednesday to Sunday
  • Card or Cash? Card only
  • Is Booking Required? No, but advised for groups
  • Is There an Entry Price? Beautiful Allotment is free to enter

 

4 Leafy London Plant Shops to Escape In

Wondering where to go on those days when you’re craving a slice of greenery in London, but don’t fancy the parks? Shops that are absolutely packed to the rafters with plants, that’s where. There are many beautiful London plant shops that have made their mark on Instagram, not to mention Columbia Road Flower Market. But if you’re looking to escape and pretend you’re exploring a wild jungle, there are a few that you just can’t miss. Plus, you’ll struggle to leave empty-handed, meaning you can create your own urban jungle oasis at home and enjoy the fresh-air benefits of houseplants.

1. Forest

With locations in Deptford and East Dulwich, Forest’s shops are stylish, well-designed and #shelfie heaven. As well as a great range of plants and some incredible hanging displays, Forest sells lifestyle gifts and accessories. If you’re choosing your pot and plant separately, the helpful team will also offer to pot it up for you. The Dulwich store is more compact and cosy, while the Deptford shop is nestled under the railway arches of Deptford Market Yard.

Best for: gifts, shelfie inspiration and lifestyle accessories.

Locations: Arch 133 Deptford Market Yard and rear of 43 Lordship Lane

Forest London Plant Shop

2. Conservatory Archives

Nothing says plants like Conservatory Archives. Ceiling to floor, this little shop is full to the brim with green. From minature cacti to large ficus and trees that will set you back a few hundred pounds, the range of plants Conservatory Archives have managed to squeeze into a small space is impressive. In fact, it’s difficult to maneouvre around if there are other people browsing – it’s that jam-packed. The features of the building add to the charm – the shop used to be the oldest ironmongers in London.

When asking the friendly guy at the till how they kept track of all the plants, he explained that it was impossible. He admitted that they got new plants in every couple of days and just had to check each pot’s soil for watering. It’s a botanical chaos, but in the very best way possible.

Best for: pure plant-inspired escapism and a great range of smaller plants, including string of pearls, which has proven dificult to find so young elsewhere in London.

Location: 493-495 Hackney Rd

London plant shops: Conservatory Archives Window

3. Plant Warehouse

Hackney isn’t short of a plant shop or two. Just around the corner from Conservatory Archives, you’ll find Plant Warehouse and Flower Warehouse. Strangely, only Flower Warehouse appears in Google, yet, Plant Warehouse shares a similar name and is almost opposite the former. The likelihood is that Plant Warehouse is a new addition to the Hackney cacti trail.

Much more spacious than Conservatory Archives, Plant Warehouse is also one of the most colourful London plant shops around. There’s no shortage of choice and you could spend forever browsing. The Scandi-inspired hanging planters and other modern pots offer a different feel to other plant shops in the area. Do you have more info about this place?

Location: Cambridge Heath Rd

Best for: modern pots and colour.

Plant Warehouse in Hackney

4. Flower Warehouse

Although entirely Instagrammble, Flower Warehouse is more straight-to-the-point than the other London plant shops on this list. The displays of cacti are particularly impressive. At the back there are also hundreds of pots to choose from. If you’re on your way back from Columbia Road Flower Market, stop in here and grab a few pots.

Location: 517A Cambridge Heath Rd

Best for: no frills shopping.

Plant Warehouse Cacti

There are many more garden centres and botanical places in the capital to escape in, but these are London plant shops that give you that I’m-smaller-than-that-cactus-feeling. Take in the canopy, take a deep breath and buy a plant. This is London slow living when you can’t make it to the countryside, or jungle, for that matter…