Friday 28th November 2008

Kew Gardens is
250 in 2009

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to as Kew Gardens is celebrating it's 250 anniversary in 2009. Kew is an extensive landscaped garden, with historical structures and botanical glasshouses situated between Richmond and Kew in southwest London. It is an internationally important botanical research and education institution with around 700 staff, as well as a visitor attraction. In this weeks issue we take a look at the history of Kew Gardens as well as providing a location guide giving all the details you need to visit.

Kew, like many of the major botanical gardens is an all year round attraction and has a continually changing range of plants on show depending on the time of year. During the winter months, in more recent years, and 2008 is no exception it also adds an additional attraction of a large outdoor ice rink.

The Fieldfare a Winter Visitor to the Uk

Image taken with Nikon D2h, with 80-400VR @ 400mm, ISO 1600, 1/160th, F6.3, EV -1.0

You can visit the ice-rink without the need to see the rest of the gardens, or you can buy combined tickets to include the ice-rink and the new canopy walkway, or part of the garden you want to visit. The ice rink is in place from tomorrow, the 29th November, through to the 4th January 2009, and on the 1st January 2009, as part of its 250th anniversary the gardens have free entry, there will still be a charge for using the rink. For more information on the ice-rink and how to get tickets take a look out our location guide Kew Winter Ice Rink.

During 2009 it will be celebrating it's pivotal role as a world-leader in plant science and conservation, and giving visitors a glimpse into the important role botanic gardens play in the future of the planet. It starts on New Year's Day (Jan 1st 2009) when for News Years Day only they are opening for FREE.

2009 also sees the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of 'On the Origin of Species' and from 7th February to 8th March, and Kew will also be marking these milestones with varying exhibitions throughout the year. The Princess of Wales Conservatory will be displaying a tropical extravaganza with plants such as orchids taking centre stage. From May to September there will be new floral displays in the gardens and the centre point will be a Global Garden and Map. See this link to keep up to date with what is going on during the anniversary year.

Kew is a Botanical Garden and is one of a number throughout the UK. The first UK Botanic Garden was in Oxford in 1621 and our second article takes a look at what are botanical gardens and they are a good place for photographers to visit and capture the wide variety of trees, plants and structures. Many of the specimens on display you would normally have to visit foreign climes for but many will only be in botanical gardens and no longer in their natural environment due to changes in climate and destruction of habitat by man over the centuries. Botanical gardens are likely to play an important role in the future in being able to both produce and see plants that no longer exist in the wild. We have also put together a list of Botanical Gardens in the UK that we have been able to identify.

Winter/Christmas Festivities

Yes its coming up to that time of year again, some like it and some don't. The shops and attractions love it, it gives them a chance to get their hands on some of our cash. Many attractions that are open during December put on special seasonal related activities and some even install ice rinks, Christmas markets and more to encourage us to visit and take a look. One of these attractions is Winter Ice Rinks.

We have mentioned the one at Kew Gardens above but there are many other Winter ice rinks in various locations around the country, including at 8 different locations in London such as at Somerset House, Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace. But there are also others found at Edinburgh, Cardiff, Cheltenham and more. Not all of these are annual events, for example this year Birmingham are not having one because their sponsor pulled out at the last minute. Over recent years they have become more popular with specialist companies who hire them out to the venues, so there are probably many more than on the list we have compiled, more local to you. Take a look at our list Outdoor Winter Ice Rinks to see where you might get to see or skate on one. Remember, the highlights when photographing white ice and if you are lucky enough to visit at night you could get some good night time photography practice. Taking a look at our articles on photographing Carnivals, and Fun Fairs should give you some pointers on how to go about this.

Don't forget we are also now in the Christmas Lights period, with many switch-ons taking place over the coming weeks and when we get to the middle of December the Mousehole Christmas Harbour Lights in Cornwall will be switched on. The Enchanted Christmas at the National Arboretum, Westonbirt in Gloucestershire starts today and runs to 21st December. Photographing Illuminated Forests, specifically looks at how to go about getting those good shots and being able to pick up the colours on them.

This time of year there are also many light parades of one type or another all over the country and other quirky events which take place during December, like the Great Christmas Pudding Race take a look at the diary for details on some of these. Our article on taking pictures of Streets at Night should also help with all the situations that have been mentioned here

Diary Update

I cannot believe 2008 is nearly at an end and today we have added the diary for January 2009. Listed in this month you have everything from Fire Festivals, traditional football games, The ‘Mad’ Maldon Mud Race in Essex, the London Boat Show, and a Sled Dog rally at Aviemore just to give you an idea. See the diary pages for more. We have also updated the Highlights Forward.

The Nature and Wildlife Calendar has also been updated for January 2009. It will not only give you ideas of some events that take place throughout the year, like the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend which takes place on the 24th and 25th January 2009, but will also give you an idea of what flora and fauna is in the UK during the different months. This weeks picture is of a Fieldfare a regular winter visitor to the UK who likes to feed on the berries in our hedgerows and on the holly trees as well as any fallen fruits. It's distinctive red breast and grey head singles it out from the thrushes you might see in your garden or in the countryside.

The Photographers diary on this website is always a good place to start to find things to photograph throughout the year and of course our location guides give you so much more.

A Winter Tidy Up

We all have a spring clean every year to clear out the cobwebs and get ready for the summer months. During the Winter months many of us will take the opportunity to search through those photos we took throughout the year and do some filing, editing and even submitting. Well as part of our winter tidy up here we have taken the opportunity to tidy up or Gardens Section and the Roman Section under Heritage.

The Gardens Section

Some gardens such as the Royal Botanic's at Kew and Edinburgh and the RHS Gardens of Wisley, Harlow Carr, Rose Moor and Hyde Hall are all year round attractions, except for Christmas Day, but we're all busy then and after a good Christmas Lunch and tipple probably don't feel like going out anyway. Others however will have closed in order to tidy up and recoup ready for the coming 2009 season. As a part of our winter tidy up we have taken the opportunity to update our 'Gardens Section' and now have our alpha lists for Scotland and Wales split into county listings, which completes the set, for now. So you can not only now look up a garden by it's name, but you can take a look at the county lists and find out what might be open near you. We have also of course added some extra articles (above) as well as a further information page which contains some books specifically on photographing gardens and plants, these may make an ideal gift or could be added to your Christmas wish list. A walk in a garden during the winter months, can be a little bleak and cold, but catch it on a frosty day and wrap up warm, and you have great macro opportunities of not only the plants and leaves covered in the frost, but also get close enough and you can photograph the crystals as they rest on their host. Gardens and landscapes with a mist on a hazy day can also give a photo with a mood.

The Romans Section

When we put together the Roman Section earlier in the year we had completed the alpha listings of the places you could visit and therefore photograph, but we didn't get around to creating the county lists. County listings are a useful way of finding locations to photograph as most people know which county they live in or they are about to visit, whereas we do not always know the name of the place. So take a peak at the Roman Section and see if there is something near you, again as with gardens some of the Roman sites in Britain are open all year round and a crisp walk along Hadrians Wall can be quite refreshing and exhilarating, but don't forget to wrap up warm to keep out the cold and of course don't forget to take your camera, you will be really annoyed if you see a shot and don't have it with you.

NEW Nikon D3X Announcement - Expected SOON

It is expected that either within the next few days or sometime during December Nikon will be launching it's NEW D3X DSLR. This is not unexpected as earlier in the year they made an error of mentioning it in a Firmware Update on their website, until they frantically removed it. From recent communications I have had it appears to be following on from the D3 and will continue to be an FX format camera able to produce 24.5 megapixel photos. We will keep an eye out for the announcement and include it this newsletter when it happens.

Summary of Articles Included this week

The history of Kew Gardens

What are botanical gardens

Lists Added This Week

Botanical Gardens in the UK

Outdoor Winter Ice Rinks

County List for Gardens in Scotland

County List for Gardens in Wales

County List of Roman Sites in England

County List of Roman Sites in Wales

Locations Guides Added This Week

Kew Gardens Winter Ice Rink, Kew, Surrey


Home Newsletter Locations Diary