Monday, 21 May 2012

Kew Gardens @ British Museum via North America


In April last year, one of my first postings after arriving in London was all about Kew's Australian Garden landscape in front of the British Museum. Yesterday I tubed into London to see the North American Landscape, Kew's fifth excursion to the forecourt of the British Museum.


Steve Ruddy, Head of Kew's Garden Development Unit, and his team have posted a couple of blogs as they built the garden and I've plundered their pages for information. They describe this year's landscape as taking 'visitors from the Florida swamps, through the Missouri prairie to the New England forest'.


I can't argue with that having never been to any of those places except perhaps a little of the Missouri prairie when I visited St Louis twice, the only place other than Ann Arbor (Michigan) that I've visited in North America.

I'm a big fan of insectivorous plants like these, nearly 1000 North American Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia).


From the Florida swamps, the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) are just coming into leaf. There are even cypress knees, the little volcanic structures that seem to be more for stability than trying to get oxygen into the water-logged roots. (I'm assuming they are made from concrete here in London....). Also in the mini tree canopy are Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) from Canada, maples, tulip trees and ash. Many of these will look their best later in the season and the garden is going to stay in place later than usual to show off their colours in autumn.

There are more than 4,000 plants in the garden, close to 3,000 of them from the prairie, sown and grown in the glasshouses at Kew Gardens. There are things like Rudbeckia, Coreopsis, Cosmos and Echinacea.


There is plenty more on this garden on the British Museum and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew websites. One thing I was looking out for yesterday was a link to the exhibitions inside the British Museum. Last year there was a collection of art prints from Australia. In the same room this time I found nothing really North American but some wonderful Picasso sketches. So I include this one of a frog as a bit of link to the Florida swamps. This picture was done for at 1942 book including 31 animal sketches by Picasso.


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