Sunday, August 19, 2012

Awestruck - Kew Royal Botanical Gardens

IMG_9403One of my very favorite places we visited while in England was Kew Gardens.  I was awestruck by it – blown away by all of God that I saw in the details there.  We barely scratched the surface of all the beauty there was to see and gawk at in the one afternoon we spent there. There seemed to be never ending acres of loveliness.  I vowed that, as soon as possible, we would take the hour tube ride again to see some of the stuff we so clearly missed, but we never did.  Kew is on the top of my list when we go back.  IMG_9386

Kew Gardens has the biggest collection of living plants in the world (there are over 30,000 different kinds of plants there!) and is home to the largest and some of the oldest Victorian glass houses still in existence.  The grounds are incredible, vast and spotted with so many different kinds of green space – big open fields, small intricate gardens, lily ponds, glass houses, wild fields, grasslands, woods. I walked around jaw dropped, trying to take it all in and capture the tiniest bit of it with my lens.  IMG_9333The kids and I ran around the glass houses searching for our favorite plants. I just loved seeing all those patterns and colors and shapes and textures, look at all that variety in just a leaf (and that’s only 9 of the 30,000!). Collages6And then there were the flowers:kew gardens2

And the ferns:IMG_9420I was pretty obsessed with the ferns (the whole time we were in England, not just at Kew).  I loved inspecting them up close, watching how they unfurl and open, reveling more and more of the same pattern, smaller and smaller.  It’s like opening one of those Russian Matryoshka dolls, you just can’t believe the tiniest tip has the same details as whole leaf.

IMG_9421IMG_9435And the palms (we loved the Palm house, it felt so warm and tropical which was a welcome break from all of our dreary winter weather, but quickly got almost unbearably hot after a few minutes of exploring…..)kew gardens3-001And the fishes!  There was a big aquarium exhibit in the basement of the palm house that the kids loved:kew gardens1

The kids loved going up the old spiral staircases and seeing the world from above. IMG_9340IMG_9335IMG_9336IMG_9404And admiring all the intricate details.IMG_9341They got a little crazy by the end, I think the heat got to them after running around and around the circumference of this hot tropical place a few times.   The heat was making me grumpy, it was just making them wild. IMG_9356IMG_9423kew gardens5


IMG_9398After the glass houses we made our way through a lot of loveliness to the Tree Top Walk, which was….a walkway at the top of the trees.  It was spectacular up in the leafy tree tops. IMG_9388IMG_9392IMG_9442IMG_9443Hazel of course was tempted to stop and make daisy chains in every meadow.  She tells me over and over again (and maybe I’ve written it here over and over again) how her favorite day in the world would be to sit in a field of daisies and read and make daisy chains all day.  Love that girl. IMG_9444IMG_9445IMG_9447Charlie prefers eating grass to making daisy chains.


Jeff met us there after work and an old friend Julie who was in town also came to meet us.  The kids played for a while at a pretty awesome (in their opinion) play ground while we chatted with Julie who is moving to England for 6 months next year with her family.  After a while of running wild at the playground we pried the kids away so we could go and see the Azaleas all abloom.  IMG_9463They were on fire. 

IMG_9467IMG_9470We chatted, surrounded by those blazing flowers while our kids ran crazy and Hazel and Charlie practiced using my camera.  There were about 100 crazy blurry pictures on it by the time we were ready to wrap things up.  They did get a few good ones:IMG_9508Charlie picked this pose himself and Hazel snapped the picture:IMG_9506IMG_9546IMG_9573There Hazel is, living her dream.  A daisy field and a good book.  IMG_9578I love these pictures of Peter looking up while grabbing onto my legs.  Please don’t grow up Peter. IMG_9577kew gardens6I stole the camera back from the kids in order to snap these winners.  Love those two little big kids of ours!kew gardens7

kew gardens4IMG_9606


I love what Jason Silva (who is rad) has to say here about being Awestruck (seriously, go watch that link).   He sites studies that have shown ‘awe’ to be good for your brain – ‘expanding perception of time, increasing compassion and empathy and promoting well being.’  He talks about the biological advantage of being Awestruck -  how awe makes us feel alive, how it drives us to not just survive, but flourish and thrive.  

We went home feeling renewed in a way I haven’t felt for a long time. Renewed by the sense of awe we felt all afternoon as we took in so much beauty. 


  1. Now I am awestruck! Your lucky camera to have your eye in charge. We went there and looked around in wonder but we missed so much of what you saw. Thanks for the catch up! Did you watch the clip on Good Morning America last week with Jason Silva? The guys is purely a genius! We should all feel more awe!

  2. Beauty. I love that our parents taught us to "awe" in the beauty of what's around us. Kew looks like the perfect place to do that.

  3. i've just discovered these photos and writings. i like them and their sage wisdom interspersed with flustration at the heat of the green houses.



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