Monday, 2 February 2009

Wakehurst Place

Drove to Wakehurst Place on Sunday. We went into it knowing that it was associated with Kew and the Milennium Seed Bank, no really knowing much more of what to expect.
A pleasant surprise upon arrival with a roughly 2.5 mile roundtrip walk around an estate that is filled with an incredible array of plantlife representing all sorts of habitats from here and around the world.
In amongst the massive grounds is the most beautiful 15c massive home. Access on the inside was dissapointing, as much of the house was converted long ago to house various scientific research carried out by Kew, and even longer ago by several past owners. This is not the case for the exterior of the manor house. Stately and gorgeous as the sun tickled it's golden hued stonework. Simply stunning.
Although only February, there was so much to see by way of colours and new growth throughout the grounds. What amazed both of us was how the grounds wound upward and downward, revealing the hills and steep valleys of the estate. Although the car park was packed with visitors, it was rare to cross others along our way.
There were fantastic look out sites with places to seat and, in some cases, tables to eat, and we knew if it had been later in the year, we would most definitely have plonked down and ate a picnic then and there.
The Milennium Seed Bank is a modern development blending in very well with the surroundings. The entire programme is expertly and simply conveyed to visitors, with a multitude of interactive displays which engage and inform the viewers.
The design of the building leads visitors into the centre, and displays flank the outside walls of the central area, walls which are glass panelled walls allowing the visitors to observe the MSBank scientists in action through the entire process.
As we made our way through this building, it had started snowing and a blanket of snow greeted us on our way out.
The main entrance building housed a great cafe and shop, including a garden shop with Kew plants!
We had a fantastic time and cannot wait to come back in the late spring!

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