Today I took a trip to visit Kew Gardens. It was my first time there, so was delighted to see the amount of variety they had. I wanted to collect some inspiration through photographs of a few more unusual plants to include in my paintings as well as expanding my knowledge on these plants. It was also helpful to see the layout of the gardens and and how the different plants were displayed for ideas for when it comes to arranging my soft sculptures with the painting. I will reflect on the photos when doing this to try maintain the relationship between the two pieces but without making it obvious.
Another nice surprise was that Kew currently have the glass sculptural works of Dale Chihuly exhibited throughout the gardens, amongst the plants. The sculpture shown in the two photographs below were probably my favourite out of all of them. I like the way it seems to seamlessly blend in with its surroundings, looking like it could be one of the spectacular plants as well. Although, when you look closer you can see how its arms are twisting and contorting, the effect given by the rippled surface of the glass, almost as if it’s growing and reaching out of the water.
Another aspect of the gardens I was looking forward to seeing was its carnivorous plant section- these plants have always fascinated me. The Nepenthes robcantleyi, (pictured below), has become a critically endangered species, originally from the Philippines. The pitchers , which are the main body of the plant, trap invertebrates, and depending on the size of the plant, also some small reptiles and mammals. These are then digested by acidic fluid in the plant to create nutrients for it to survive.
The photos below are just a selection of my favourite photos I took today. It was very interesting to learn about kew’s collection as well as about the plants that we commonly use but probably don’t really think about where it comes from or how it is grown, eg. black pepper, cocoa, rubber trees, and the many plants used for medicinal purposes.