london photography

Exploring London: Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

I realize that this is only the second post in my “Exploring London” photography series. There are reasons for this: time and rain, rain, rain. The sun has chosen a few scattered days to grace us with its presence, but on the whole, this summer has been wet and miserable. I’m definitely missing the heat back in California right now. Needless to say, I haven’t had many opportunities to take my camera for a spin.

Two Saturdays ago, however, I went out to west London for a long walk around the famous Kew Gardens. It’s a bit pricey (£14.50 for an adult), but you only live once, as they say. I was armed with my 50mm f/1.4 lens, which is brilliant for photographing people and nature up-close. The extremely high f-stop lets in an abundance of light and throws out the background. It’s by far my favorite lens to use.

Kew Gardens, or The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, is a large open space out by Richmond that contains the world’s largest collection of  living plants. There are various greenhouses scattered across the expertly landscaped park that house a variety of plants from different climates. Also in the park are several beautiful, historical buildings. I found Kew Palace to be the most impressive, aside from the fact that you have to pay extra to go inside, which I chose not to do. The 17th century architecture reminded me much of Drayton Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, which my friends Maggie, Kasia and I visited as part of our Gone with the Wind roadtrip through the South in 2009. Other notable features at Kew include the Japanese Pagoda, Victorian Palm House, the Orangery, and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, a 16th century garden retreat complete with thatched roof. Sadly, my lens was fixed-with, making it difficult to photograph buildings.

While I was in Kew, I had hoped to take a photo of the Q Theatre where Vivien Leigh made her first-ever stage appearance in a play called The Green Sash. Alas, it was torn down in the late 1950s and replaced with a block of flats.

Kew Gardens can be reached via the London Overground and the District Line trains to Richmond.

*Photos © Kendra Bean, all rights reserved. Links take you to my flickr account.

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Kendra has been the weblady at vivandlarry.com since 2007. She lives in Yorkshire and is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, and co-author of Ava Gardner: A Life in Movies (Running Press). Follow her on Twitter @kendrajbean, Instagram at @vivandlarrygram, or at her official website.

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Comments (8)

  1. your photos are lovely, as usual. You really manage to catch the essence of a beautiful place. It’s almost like being there…

  2. Beautiful photos! I love taking walks in a garden :)
    I never did go when I was in London, though. I didn’t know you had to pay either.
    Love that black and white fountain shot.

  3. Gosh! The pictures are lovely. I live in South Africa and I just have to say that the Kew Gardens are officially on my “to visit” list!

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