Friday 14 June 2013

The Pagoda (Week 10, Friday)

We visited the Pagoda today, such a symbol of Kew gardens!

I remember a few years ago the Pagoda was open to the public for a short period of time and I wanted to go but then did not manage to... but today we had our very own special tour.

The reason why the Pagoda is not open to the public is that the wooden structure may not support the flow of visitors, but there are plans to renovate it.

It was first built as a folly in the seventeen hundreds for princess Augusta, who wanted to make of Kew a paradise on earth, so commissioned various buildings to adorn it.

The Pagoda used to have golden dragons at its corners, and it costed the equivalent of £17,000 in today's money. It was the tallest reconstruction of a Chinese building in Europe but, with its 10 storeys, it is architecturally inaccurate: pagodas always have an odd number of floors.

For me the biggest treat was to see the South Canal beds from up high: they look so gorgeous! And I could spot some of my most recent work even from there.

What is more, by finally seeing them in their whole entirety, I seem to have figured out their geography, which has helped already with my bad sense of direction in the gardens.

The South Canal beds extend from the Cedar vista (the grassed walkway  that  connects the Pagoda to the river Thames) to the tarmacked path that leads to the Pavillion restaurant, 

and from the Pagoda vista (the grassed walkway that connects the Pagoda to the Palm House) to the grassed path that flanks the western side of the Temperate House. It's a trapezoidal area with 6 beds, tree each long side, with the ones on the corners V-shaped, that enclose an area with individually planted trees (Pyrus spp,  Malus spp and Crataegus spp).

It's a large area, seen from up the Pagoda! No wonder I get tired walking around it, and I am losing so much weight :)

The South Canal beds
Since I have worked there so much, I also took a picture of the Japanese gateway. 

The Japanese gateway
Our guide for the trip was the arboretum (and my) manager, who has been in Kew since he was a teenager and worked his way up the career ladder. Having been in the gardens so long, he had some fascinating stories to tell us. A particularly quaint one, was that the area of the gardens where the yard is located and where I'm working, was a long time ago nicknamed "Alcatraz" and the gardeners who were least suited to be in contact with the public were sent to work there!

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