Today it was raining. I had promised myself earlier in the year that I would go and visit the gardens to see the Chihuly exhibition on display there, and for the whole summer I thought I would go when it is sunny – glass always looks beautiful with light reflecting off it, and so it seemed like a good idea to wait – for the right time, the right company etc etc. But it just didn’t seem to happen. The exhibition closes tomorrow, so it was now or never. I looked outside – definitely brolly weather, and so I thought – at least there won’t be many people there. I’ll go on my own, so if I get tired I can have a lengthy cup of tea and not annoy anyone in the process. Dale Chihuly has been a great fascination of mine since Marysia was small – I took her to see his underwater creatures exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum when she was about 7 in 2001 and ever since then I have tried to see his work whenever I could. The sculptures are magical in their forms and colours and i so hoped I wasn’t going to be disappointed today.
So I paid online and now that I am 66 I count as a concession – so many advantages to getting older – found the right entrance, successfully found and showed my ticket to a very bedraggled young lwoman at the gate, got my map and set off in search of the sculptures. And my goodness – the first one just attacks you as soon as you come inside.
My photos will not do these sculptures justice but they are overwhelmingly beautiful. Luckily it was only raining a little at this point and i could look without anybody getting in the way. Kew Gardens is very big however so as I went in search of the next one I found myself going in entirely the wrong direction. So I doubled back and found the next one relatively easily. they are big, but quite widely spaced out. And the the trees are rather large too.
On the way to number two I saw this dear little door set inside the wall with a rather sweetly triumphant unicorn resting on top.
Then I came across this. Not my favourite at all, despite the rather lovely yellows. But it just looks like lumps of jelly before it has had the hot water poured over it. so i wandered on.
A very imposing orangery with two “flames” of white guarding it. Grandiose and impressive, I thought that they were rather lost in this situation – white against white – although it was a very dull day. It was just drizzling a tiny bit at this point.
The Chinese pagoda did not disappoint and luckily I could shelter underneath its balconies while I searched my map for the next one.
Lovely weather for ducks.
And a peacock. I did not really expect him to spread his tail in this weather, though I did hang about for a bit.
From China to Japan
Lots of glass balls in the beautifully manicured pebbles. All of a sudden quite a lot of children appeared, attracted by the scintillating colours, I imagine. It was quite hard to take a photo without little ones in wellies, though I have to admit they were very wisely dressed for the occasion!
This being a botanical garden there was a lot to see besides. Here is a perfect quince – just the one growing on a very small bush. Just waiting to be picked and turned into quince vodka or paste.
Beautiful Rowan trees – lots of different varieties but this was the most bountiful – there was also a lovely white rowan which drew a lot of attention from other visitors.
I walked on and thought how lucky I am not to be thirsty, though this fountain was quite an interesting piece of work.
I also thought how wonderful that there are so few people around. Thanks goodness for the rain, thought I and took care not to slip on the grass. But pride comes before a fall as always and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back. I had landed with quite a bump and the shock made me forget for a moment what i was doing. Luckily my glasses were intact and my phone was happy in my pocket. I lay there for a few seconds wondering how I was going to get up when suddenly I was surrounded by a sea of concerned faces, offering help, water, and most importantly a hand to hold on to. this is where I knew I could feel my age. But I was fine. Just wet where I had made contact with the ground. So, upwards and onwards, past some crocuses which were resting in sympathy with me..
and on to
an amazing glass walkway of what looked like red flamingos to me.
Then these blue and violet stalks
Until I got to this monstrosity. I don’t know why, but I didn’t like this one either. The ducks seemed to appreciate it though.
This was much nicer. Red reeds. It was raining hard now so luckily there was a building I could escape into. lots of other people had the same idea of course. At one point it felt like everyone who had been to Kew Gardens that day was squeezed into the lilypad house. But what a delight. Waterlilies – lots of different varieties of real ones and then the glass. This is truly magnificent. I was finally reminded of why I fell in love with his work almost twenty years ago. My photo does not do it justice, but I hope Kew Gardens will keep this one installation if not any others after tomorrow.
So delicate, so precise.
Pushing past what had become a crowd I then felt very tired, longing for some tea – but there was only one sculpture more to see. and see it I did. I dont know what it is called, but it is very “in your face”.
See what I mean?
I missed out one – I had to make another little detour to see these:
I liked these. Very much. All in all, I had a wonderful time.
Tea, however, was a bit of a disappointment. Paper cups. Some women who joined me at my table were most disconcerted when they were told that if they wanted crockery they should bring their own, Next time I will bring my own tea service if that’s what they want. Teapot, cup and saucer, spoon, creamer and sugar bowl, even though I take neither milk nor sugar! i hope they will provide me with some hot water! Join me.