Kids at Kew Gardens: what is there to do?

Remember there’s no scooters, no balls, no dogs, and no climbing at Kew Gardens, all those things that would normally keep your children amused in a public park. So other that just walk about, (‘bor-ring’) what can kids at Kew Gardens do?

The Children’s Garden by Brentford Gate

The most obvious stop-off, the newly revamped playground, obsured by beech hedges and full of plants. It’s near refreshments.

Picnic by Queen Charlotte’s Cottage

Yes you can picnic everywhere, but this queenly cottage feels like gingerbread territory and could inspire some impromptu story-telling. It’s also set in woodland among the bluebell dells, so it’s blissful in May. It’s open sometimes, but the ground floor is a bit sterile. The first floor has delicate frescos of garden flowers which could encourage additional chapters about who painted them, who lived there and what happened to them.

 

 

 

Paint a watercolour

As I strolled around, I met a painter, Vanessa,  just sitting in the grass before a young cherry tree. Her message was, ‘it doesn’t matter what you end up with, it’s an apple because I said so’. Bring a small pallette and paints and brushes, with a jam jar of water, let your children find what they want to paint, and hey presto, 20-30 minutes of peaceful chatter and oodles of praise.

Instagram: ness.t.art

 

 

 

Collect fallen seeds and cones

Teaching children not to pluck flowers, step on plants or climb on trees is absolutely crucial at Kew. So what is there left to do? Where you find thousands of fallen pine cones, why not collect a couple with their seeds still in, and pot them up at home? It will be a test in patience, understanding seasons, caring for plants, and you may get a rare species sprouting up as a reward.

Make a daisy chain

I say no plucking, but daisies are the exception. Plop yourselves down where the daisies have longer stalks and make daisy crowns, necklaces and bracelets.

Play with mirrors at The Breach

The Breach is a temporary structure, installed as part of last year’s Food Forever programme. It is unsignposted and unmapped, so all I can say is that it’s roughly in the Middle of the gardens. It’s a greenhouse shaped like a stilton cut in quarters, with walkways inbetween the chunks and opposing mirrors which throw off thousands of reflections of you tapering into infinity. Excellent chance for photos, acrobatics and general silliness.

 

 

 

 

 

Feed the bird-life at the great lake

But NEVER bread, it must be seeds from a pet shop. Bread clogs up their insides. The great lake is beautifully landscaped and the bridge has bars which are designed to ring if you drag a stick across them. NB find a good stick.

Let them take photos of everything they like

Favourite colours, flowers, favourite tree, their favourite bird. Look for amazing shapes, note the endless varieties of leaf, look for beauty everywhere, and pull all their best photos together into a gift-calendar for Christmas presents, if you’re feeling really arty.

Take family portraits

There is a holy place for everyone in Kew. Let them find their oasis, where they absolutely want to come back to next time. It will become a special place to retreat to when they are going through turbulence later in life. Take a photo of each family member in their chosen spot and create a mural.

Papa bears

 

 

 

 

Visit the shop

Finally, the shop is full of stuff that will do nothing but gather dust, but you can find activites to engage them further in their discoveries of the natural world. Flower presses are a way to use cut flowers from home and encourage your child’s artistic nature by making a thank you card or picture with the flower after a few weeks of pressing.

PS Parking – best by Brentford Gate, as there are loos right there and the Children’s Garden.

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