NAKED REVIEW - KEW GARDENS - Kew Gardens has such a special place in my heart - I mean flowers and gardens - what is not to love? It is in Richmond and has it's own picturesque train station with a delightful looking pub right next to it. Kew Gardens itself, or Royal Botanic Gardens if you are being posh is a place of many faces, so to speak, in that it is the home for concerts, weddings, outdoor cinemas as well as being a spectacular place to demonstrate the best that gardening has to offer. It's taken me a couple of trips to get around the whole thing now (it's a full day experience whichever way you slice it). The entry price is around £16 and you can buy online to avoid the queues - I've included a little map at the end of this post. INDOOR HOUSE - The very first time I visited was on a Saturday in June with my mum which started out all cool and cloudy and ended up so scorching hot so we ended the day drinking cold beers on the grass (yep you can drink here - winner!). We enjoyed the beautiful rose gardens which are next to the Palm House and explored the South East of the gardens including the Waterlily House with the biggest waterlily's (seriously impressive), spent a lot of time at the Prince of Wales Conservatory looking at all the indoor plants and the beautiful aquatic gardens over on this side towards Elizabeth Gate. There's also a fab bit called Kew on a Plate too which was featured on the BBC featuring vegetable gardens. KEW PALACE - I'm also going to shout out for the marvellous gardens behind this palace which could get overlooked by the sheer magnitude of Kew Gardens. This quaint palace is super pretty up front but wait until you scurry around to the back and take a look at the perfectly formed gardens.
There's lavender all around giving the most delicate fragrance, a decorative well stands tall in the middle, there's white statues of gods standing majestically at the end, there's a birdcage type thing on the hill for fun Instagram photos, there's an archway filled with Laburnum flowers (blooming in May), it has luscious leafy walkways, there's a little fountain and well placed benches to sit and take in the view plus there's a cute little garden with vegetables and herbs.
And I haven't even been in the house - imagine how excited I'd be then?! You can visit the gardens with your normal Kew Gardens entry and this special place is one of my faves, it reminds me a little of gardens I've seen in Versailles. NORTH - If you have time (it took me three whole visits before I made it to this bit), there are bluebell woods and beautiful flower filled paths like the Rhododendron Dell which is lovely to walk around and was in full bloom at the end of May. One of my top tips (which is obvs food related) is to avoid the obvious cafe near the gates and go around to one of the other cafes either the Pavillion or the Orangery. They have lovely sandwiches, salads and hot food plus tea, coffee and boozy drinks if you fancy it. It is super pretty with trees creating a shady canopy overhead so you can sit outside to enjoy lunch. Here's my friend Kate enjoying a fish pie and salad - yummy. While you're over that side (South West) you can also take a look at the Japanese Gateway and Pegoda. After that, if you're not afraid of heights, take to the Treetop Walkway which is suspended above the trees so you can walk around and take the view in.
THE HIVE - I visited the new Hive at Kew Gardens on a blisteringly hot summer day. My first tip, go in fairly good weather if you can and my second tip is to go at the beginning or end of day to do your best to avoid the crowds. The Hive is an impressive, curious structure from the outside, visible from all sides and protected by wild flower bankings.
The silver metal, which in sunlight almost seems to have a rose gold hue, feels imposing but somehow still delicate with slender pieces holding together like a elaborate and arty giant Jenga and accented with glowing, flickering bulbs. If you enter the structure from the bottom you can look up to the people above visible through a Perspex walkway. It you enter the floor above, The Hive is all around you, glowing and buzzing with gentle music and then look up to see the sky above through the skylight and light streaming in through gaps in the structure. From all the Perspex and metal it's a reflective dream with light chaotically bouncing about so makes for wonderful photos with people becoming chic silhouettes against the backdrop. Take a seat on this level or even lie on the floor if you can and it becomes a gallery space with gentle sounds all around it's a meditative space. Enjoy the sensory experience of The Hive. I also recommend events at Kew - I've seen Will Young at a snazzy and posh outdoor concert and also seen Back To The Future ('Roads, where we're going, we don't need roads') at a Luna Cinema experience in July