The second issue with Kew is that its fucking expensive to get in. We found that they upped the prices to £13.90 for adults and pay even more if you wanted in on their giftaid scam. However paying an arm and a leg and finally getting your bearings its not that bad. We found that, walking round at your own pace and generally taking your time was the best thing to do. First up we visited the gift shop, Kew has two, one situated next to the childrens playground and the other is a sort of mini nursery next to one of their main gates. The first one sells the usual stuff along with guidebooks and trinkets and I found it to be rather naff, the other is much more interesting.
We spent most of our time deliberating over plants before looking at their much more hardcore floras in the book department. They seemed to have a lot of books for sale on Leguminosiae in the main book area, ideal if you wish to deal with peas and its many relatives. We also took a look at some of their floras including one of Oman, before heading back to the Plant area. Their succulents were not up to much and what they wanted for them was extortionate, £5 for Aloe Variegata in a 3 1/2 inch pot isn't my idea of fun. However they did sell themselves short on Lithops. Whereas a single headed plant sold for around £2 in a 2" pot they had a 31/2" pot with several seedlings in for £5, once repotted we had 10 plants that would have cost £20 brand new.
|Nolina Recurvata Donkey Tail Palm in flower.|
Or the Princess of Wales Conservatory to give it its proper title. This is the main point of our trip to see what was in flower cactus wise. It was in hindsight a little early for them, and should have given it another month, but I wasn't actually disappointed with the outcome. They had a few things in flower a lot of their Cleistocactus were in bloom and whereas their flowers are neither large nor impressive they are bird pollinated which should count for something. Most of the side trays were dedicated to Gasteria and Haworthia where a lot of them were in full bloom. along with some Aloes too, (Striata was pretty impressive, knee high with several flower spikes in full bloom.)
Kew is celebrated for its orchids and seed bank biodiversity projects, although thanks to the wealth of cacti on display (and pretty well grown plants too) maybe it should be better known to all cactophiles out there too. I hope that these photos will prove my point.
|Gasteria In bloom|
|Pereskia Aculeata: Note that it has leaves as well as areoles.|