Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 08.07.13

How lovely to be back at Kew in the summer. Time flies it seems, and Gloria doesn't. She took a little tumble last week which seems to have aggravated a long standing injury. I have had to promise to that I will hold her natural enthusiasm in check. We have a jolly week of visits planned and we must ration our energies.

The corner of the gardens by the Victoria Gate holds a wealth of delights, most notably the Palm House and the pond but there is also a lovely garden of shrub roses just reaching their peak and the Tropical Waterlily House.

Inside the Palm House the hot air is heavy with water vapour. This Selaginella vogelii was quite new to me but it demmanded attention and Gloria has done a masterful job of responding.

While we are paying our regards to the Vogels it is worth glancing at Thunbergia vogeliana. Another one I have never seen before, perhaps the Vogels are new to the area. The contents of the Palm House are being carefully thinned and it is making a wonderful difference. For many years it has been a heavy congested space full of venerable old plants packed into musty corners. Now suddenly there is light and rejuvenation. The whole house is refreshed and restored to vibrant majesty.

Many of the old plants remain and they seem to have burst into flower. I have known these old clumps of Scadoxus cinnabarinus for decades and I have never seen them flower .I have a special place in my heart for Scadoxus and wonderful memories of picnics in the veldt from my time in South Africa. Perhaps I have never visited in July though I am sure the plants are really responding to the light and space.

Crinum purpurascens is another plant that I have long known by it leaves but only rarely seen flowering. It is like having a birthday party in a greenhouse. I'm sure I must know somebody with a birthday that needs to be celebrated about now, all the old friends have come.

The magnificent leaves of the Amazon Water Lily, Victoria cruziana. It is grown from seed every year and planted out in the pool once summer starts. Indeed, a young man in waders was thrashing around in there today tidying the place up. Something about hot weather seems to magnetise the water and draw men in.

The masculine splashing continued. At present there is an activity running called Tutti-frutti on the pond, which seems to involve a lot of men in boats rowing under a giant model of a pineapple. These things happens, I find it best not to enquire. So often the politest of comments leads to a full explanation. It's summer, the garden is very dry. There is a pond, some men in rowing boats, a giant pineapple and the fountain is switched on. Best leave it at that.

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