Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kew Royal Gardens, aka My Happy Place

  I loved my time at the Kew Royal Gardens in Richmond, England.

This is the Palm House, a beautiful Victorian glass and iron structure built in 1844-1848. It is the first sight I saw here and remained my favorite throughout the day.

I couldn't get enough photographs of it and I had to come back and see it again before I left for the day.

This visit was in April, 2011, in early spring and blooms were bursting everywhere.

   I was lucky enough to be here early in the day to take pictures when the garden just opened and before it was busy with visitors.

At least of the human species, that is.

It was just as beautiful inside the Palm House with lots of plants; this jade vine striking me as one of the more unusual ones that I saw.

After walking through the Palm House, I rode through the hop on, hop off tram that will take you through the 326 acre garden with a guided tour of the most significant sights.

Such as the Temperate House and the Pagoda (above).

Trees and shrubs were blooming too in this neatly manicured, and pedicured, garden.

Nearby the rhododendrons were blooming early this year, I felt so lucky to be there to see them!

Of course, in any great garden there are a couple of water features to be enjoyed.

I love white structures in a garden, and this covered sitting area is just begging for someone to sit, perhaps be photographed or meditate to just take in the beauty of the park. 

Although it may seem from my photos there were not many visitors out enjoying this beautiful garden, while I was there I was actually quite impressed with how busy the park had become that day, loaded with moms, children and strollers enjoying the large children's play area and displays set up for the upcoming Easter season. 

Quiet gardens are certainly lovely to look at but they are so much more alive and inspiring when people are enjoying them and children are running and playing outside as they should be, planting the seed that a garden, above all, is a happy place to be!

Mission San Diego Garden Cultivates Spirit And Soul

               The Mission San Diego De Alcala is the first of 21 missions that were built in California by the Spaniards.  I recall when my daughter had to do a grade school project to recreate a model of a mission and she chose this. I loved the mini terra cotta pots we found to flank the entrance with plants, just as the church is today.  We enjoyed attending church services there and afterwards we always spent time in this small garden.  Recently I visited the Mission after being away for a while and, just as I remember, it is still charming and always seems to lift my spirit.

          The church is a Basilica because of its historical significance.  The Mission was built in 1769 and like the church, the garden is quaint, simple and small.  But it is definitely a San Diego garden, planted with bougainvillea, palms, roses, aloe, orange and even pomegranate trees.   


Outside the church entrance, the garden has several pomegranate trees ripening for the fall season. I immediately wondered why I never planted this gem in my own small garden.

Just think of the possibilities: pomegranate seeds for yogurt and salad, pomegranate margaritas and Thanksgiving tablescapes with red pomegranates from the garden. And they are healthy for the heart so they must be good for the soul, especially if you cultivate your own. Alleluia!

And, of course, there are always bells at the Missions. I understand they were used as clocks back in the day, ringing when it was time to eat or pray. This is the bell tower from the inside of the garden, flanked  by trees and bougainvillea. On the left is a narrow and roughly made stairway.


The small courtyard garden is divided into four, paved with red tiles that echo the roof and embellish the white structure of the buildings.

This huge palm is quite stunning inside the small yard. 

Several benches in the courtyard provide a shady spot to linger, enjoy the view or perhaps meditate.

The fountain on the plaza east of the church is surrounded by the ubiquitous pepper trees.

This hibiscus was one of the prettiest blooms in sight.

And finally, the view of the garden gate from the inside of the garden  is one of my favorite vignettes here.

    Simple, and unrefined--yet this small garden will help soothe my soul on any day of the week. Can I get an Amen?