Field of Science

2008's Botanical Geek Tour

The question was how best to stimulate the economy with those tax rebates provided by the USA? Well, our idea was to organize a 2nd botanical geek tour whose purpose is to visit botanical gardens and other places of botanical interest, and along the way to eat and drink well. So we stimulated the economy by travelling to London for a long weekend in late May to visit the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew, the Chelsea Flower Show, and the Chelsea Physic Garden. You might argue that this did little to stimulate the USA's economy, but this is an international form of the trickle down effect, so I'm sure the USA understands if the impact is a bit indirect.

Kew Gardens were not disappointing, although I have visited other more attractive gardens, but few with such grand vistas. Here is the largest, oldest Victorian glasshouse still in use, and the collection it houses is quite impressive. One of the cycads inside is probably the oldest potted plant in the world. The plant in the foreground is Gunnera, which is a basal lineage of the true dicots, and it's sort of strange seeing it so far from its Central and South American rainforest home.

The Chelsea flower show was quite amazing, the displays quite often provoking the question, "how did they do that?" However, although the daily attendance is capped, the crowds were equally amazing. Still all other garden/flower shows pale by comparison. My favorite was a small garden where everything, roof, walls, table, etc. were covered in moss.

The Chelsea physic garden is rather small and tucked away in a corner, but they have over 4000 labelled species arranged both medically and taxonomically in its 4 acres. The garden has been around for over 350 years, but has only been open to the public in recent decades.

Now you can get a bit foot-sore and tired with so much tramping about in the name of botanical edification, and the remedy for that is to sit yourself down at a local pub for a bit of refreshment. The Coach & Horses is right outside the main gate to Kew Gardens and it came recommended by a British colleague. A fine pub but this is as close to botany as he ever got. I wish I knew why pubs in Britain have so much more atmosphere than most bars in the USA, which seem fixated on the number of TVs screens they can cram in.
The next botanical geek tour may take us to Sweden, the home of Linnaeus. But it will have to wait until the next stimulus check appears, or when Lincolnland comes across with a decent pay raise, or hell freezes over.

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