Kew. 11.04.13

A spring trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens to spot the first signs of the new season. Winter has receded like a gentlemans hairline. Outside the spring is still wistful dandruff but there is some real growth going on in the greenhouses.

The Alpine house is wonderful as it catches the low light. The grey walls make the structure look a little like a complicated obstacle for a skate park but they shine brightly when the sun comes out. The building is designed to stay cool in the sun while providing the maximum amount of light for the plants.

Arum purpureospathum comes from Crete where it flowers among the rocks while there is still some winter rainfall in the soil. The leaves and flowers wither away almost as soon as they have opened. Here in the UK they last a little longer. Although it is hardy, it doesn't seem to prosper outdoors.

It is a marvellous greenhouse. the astonishing shape was achieved by glueing the glass to steel cables strung from the ridge.

The genus Pitcairnia are remarkable bromeliads with dull foliage but spectacular flowers. Many of the species are scarlet but P.xanthocalyx is a wondeful primrose yellow.

I am sure that none of the Magnolia flowers were open when we walked through the gate. A brief shower encouraged us take lunch and when we came out we found this M.salicifolia. Gloria said that she thought there were better examples at the top of the tree but she had eaten too much lunch to try proving the point.

This Styphnolobium japonicum was planted somewhere around 1760 and is one of the oldest trees in the garden. The trunk has leant over rather alarmingly and is now propped up to prevent catastrophe. From time to time chunks have to be removed but the regrowth is still vigorous.

And finally a picture of a large fish that Gloria insists must be included to promote diversity.

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