As we gathered by the entrance, the sun shone and continued to do so for a wonderful day of exploration around the gardens. At the start, Neil, the leader handed out some fruits that he had collected from trees whilst recceing the route on the previous day. One was particularly rare – the fruit of the Gingko tree, along with conkers from an Indian Chestnut and a Walnut encased in it’s green casing, which had a distinctive citrusy smell.
We were lucky that Storm Ciaran, which had wreaked havoc elsewhere the previous week, had not stripped Kew’s iconic trees of their Autumn colour. Neil led us on a route through woodland, open green spaces and beside the lake. All took up his invitation to join him in the bushes to see the very rare female Gingko tree, which is tucked away from the public due to its unpleasant smell. We did get a few funny looks from passersby as we emerged from the greenery! One of our group later sent me details of some research he did into why the fruit had this unpleasant smell, which I appreciated as it made interesting reading. There was lots of rich Autum colour to see in glorious hues of yellow, orange, purple and red.
Neil gave us a potted history of the Gardens at various points and it’s many structures, including the greenhouses bult in Victorian times, the orangery and Pagoda. We climbed up into the tree walkway, giving us a bird’s eye view over the gardens and saw the parasitic mistletoe growing on a hawthorn bush.
We finally reached the café where most of us chilled with a relaxing coffee and food. There was lots of camaraderie and chat flowed easily as there was so much to see and remark upon. It was very heartening to see people engaging with each other and having a nice time. This is the essence of GOC – making connections whilst taking part in a healthy pursuit in lovely surroundings.
We reluctantly said our goodbyes, saying we hoped to meet again before long on another GOC event.
Thank you to Martin for some of the photos.
GOC Gardens Co-Ordinator.