A recent visit to Kew Gardens made me think that new interpretations of old ideas are not always an improvement on the original.
Being the middle of the school holidays, we thought we should take in the major attractions of the gardens first, so headed for the Treetop Walkway, trumpeted on Kew’s website as taking you 59ft up into the air “bringing you close to the trees in a way that will take your breath away”.
All I can say is that the good people of Kew must be a bit short of excitement in their lives. The walkway was a huge disappointment. You seem a long way from the trees – perhaps they’ve allowed a lot of room for growth! If you walk up a wooded hill, you will feel more up close and personal with the trees than on this artificial platform. It was a dull day, so even the occasional distant view of the city was almost invisable.
Then we went into the big glasshouses, huge Victorian triumphs of architecture. Now there, the intricate iron balconies and spiral staircases did take you right amongst the plants, and yes could almost “take your breath away”.
Yet these conservatories are in a poor state of repair. Signs trumpet the restoration work carried out in the 1980s but since then it seems as though these wonderful edifaces have been neglected in favour of investment in some boring, but sponsored, walkway which fails miserably to achieve anything except creating a huge sense of disappointment in the visitor.