Palm Day at Kew

(page 3)

Naturally, these informative talks whetted our appetites, even more so for those of us who, like myself, had never been there, to visit the Palm House in person. As David concluded, the lights came up, and we split into 2 groups to make the long-awaited visit, with Sue and David acting as guides.

We had been told it was hot inside, and I was ready for it (remember, I was dressed appropriately). After all, I used to live in Florida. Stepping inside it was like a quick trip to Fort Lauderdale in July, and here I was, in London. As some Fous de Palmiers would remark it was the 'depaysment complet'. Of course it was not only the climate that reminded me of Florida, but also the lush vegetation, with luxuriant palms gracing every vista. Tony King of E.P.S. predicted that his glasses would fog up in seconds. He was right. A few minutes later I discovered the reason why Martin Gibbons was wearing a tie for palm day.... it came in handy for wiping the condensation off his camera lens.

Periodically, jets of mist would send a warm vapour throughout the Palm House, making the extremities of the north and south wings disappear when one was in the centre transept, and bringing to mind images we tourists have of the famous London fog.

Of course, I can't begin to name all the palms we saw. I was puzzled by one fine specimen I took to be a Butia and was rather surprised to find it in this tropical clime. Dr Dransfield told me it was a Syagrus, and David later told me that for years it was labelled Butia, until recently when it was reclassified. Imagine coming of age and then having your name changed. That's what happened to this palm. Wasn't it Shakespeare who wrote "What's in a name?..." Whatever we call it, this palm is thriving and gorgeous.

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