There is potentially nothing more autumny than visiting Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanical Gardens in the Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Boasting to have the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”, it has plenty of deciduous trees shedding their leaves during the Autumn season.
Recognised as a World Heritage Site, the Royal Botanical Gardens houses more than 30,000 living varieties of plants, while the herbarium has over seven million specimens and is one of the largest in the world. It also has a library which contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants. It hosts seasonal workshops and seminars given by experts and also showcases themed exhibitions.
As the Gardens are so large, I would recommend that you head there early. We decided to make our way just before lunchtime, to grab a bite before spending the greater part of the day walking along the many available routes. Kew, the suburban district that is known for the Gardens is a quaint little town with a few eateries and shops. There is a quaint street called Station Approach, minutes away from Kew Gardens station, where you can find a shop or two.
Along that street, we came across an Australian brasserie called Antipodea. Antipodea is well suited for its environment, in that it is rustic and botanical. It’s decorated with terrariums, hanging plants, botanical tiles and has mix n’ match furniture and cutlery to add to that homey feel. It has plenty of tables indoors, but also offers seats in an open narrow passageway, connected to the building and it also has seats outside the entrance. They offer you blankets in case it’s chilly and there’s a fireplace inside when the cold begins to bite.
Antoipodea’s menu is varied, offering specials as well as a brunch, lunch and dinner menu. I went for the special: Chargrilled chicken with kimchi and gochujang dipping sauce for £15.
The portion was sizeable as there was half a chicken on the plate and it was moist and well seasoned. The kimchi was different to the Korean kimchi I am familiar with as it was crunchier and less saucy but it still had a nice bite to it. Perhaps, a little more of it would have balanced out the plate, as it looked out of proportion in relation to the chicken.
After a satisfying meal, we headed off to Kew Gardens. And as you can see, it’s so pretty in Autumn.
Not to mention the many sculptures dotting the park as part of Sculpt at Kew exhibition.
And the wonderful Lake and Sackler Crossing, with great vistas of numerous trees, shrubs and bushes as you cross the lake.
And be sure to spot the plentiful squirrels and parrots on the lookout for chestnuts.
You can get an excellent view of the parrots from the Treetop Walkway, which is 18 metres high and gives you a bird eye’s view of Kew Gardens.
And of course, there aren’t just outdoor activities. You MUST visit the many greenhouses that are home to a massive range of plant species. Our favourite was the Palm House.
Lastly, make sure you pass by the Hive, another key attraction. The Hive is designed by artist Wolfgang Buttress, inspired by the life of bees!
And it’s not only the bees that will be rumbling. Watch out for all the planes overhead!
If you’re not able to make it time for the Autumn special at Kew Gardens, the winter edition kick from the 22nd November of this year to the 1st of January 2018.
Either way, you’re spoilt for choice!
Kew Gardens is open daily at 10am, so go early because there is plenty to see.
Currently, grounds close at 4.15pm with last entry at 3.45pm until 20 November. Tickets at £12.