The Waterlily House at Kew Gardens was the destination but first we had a look at the ornamental lake’s calm water and the colourful leaves of the surrounding trees. It’s a peaceful time, autumn.
Our friend suggested a visit to the Waterlily House. They have more than water lilies in there. Even though the aquatic plants are the stars of the show, the supporting players like this hibiscus deserve top billing too.
The aluminum plant was flowering but its big appeal lies in the leaves. I’m calling it Pilea cadieri based on the colour of the flowers.
This next plant had me fooled. I thought it was the sensitive plant, Mimosa pudica, but the flowers aren’t the right colour. It looks like a different genus: Neptunia oleracea, the water mimosa. The leaves of both plants fold up when you touch them.
This plant grows in many places, including where it’s not wanted. In the Australian state of Queensland, it’s considered an invasive aquatic weed and any sightings have to be reported to the authorities within 24 hours. It’s a serious concern.
Cotton is a plant used all over the world but I never noticed it at Kew before. I’d like to see it growing in the field sometime.
The building where we saw all this botanic beauty is the Waterlily House so how could I fail to include at least one water lily? They aren’t actually lilies but they do grow in the water and Kew has some lovely ones.
In the Waterlily House they dye the water black. It looks very dramatic and apparently it reduces algal growth too. In the picture below, the big lily pads with the upturned edges look like the giant Amazon water lily Victoria amazonica, but they’re actually Victoria cruziana, another water lily from Bolivia, with leaves almost as big. Just look at them floating so calmly on the dark water. These leaves are big and strong and can support a lot of weight.
Normally the dangly flowers of the chenille plant aren’t my favourites, just OK. These particular flowers were luminous.
The Waterlily House is a classic historic building, opened in 1852. Unknown to me we were lucky to get in – Kew’s website says it’s now closed until spring 2017.
One more view of the lake before we say goodbye.
There is no such thing as a bad day at Kew Gardens.