Kew Gardens, on a bank holiday, in the rain. Looking back it’s doesn’t sound such a good idea. Our visit on this particular Good Friday coincided with the opening of the Peter Rabbit trail at Kew Gardens for its ‘big day out with Peter Rabbit’. Beatrix Potter’s mischievous rabbit is rather popular at the moment with a new film in cinemas starring James Corden. Little surprise then that Kew Gardens was even more popular than usual.
As I’m a member of Kew Gardens, I thought I’d become a pro at missing the crowds. We usually get there when it opens at 10am and can enjoy at least an hour before most people arrive. Not on this particular morning. Like-minded parents were clearly thinking the same and, with rain forecast for the afternoon, were getting their Good Friday fun in quickly.
As we walked into the gardens we were given a booklet of ‘Mr McGregor’s Garden Notebook’. We also got a leaflet about the dragon trail which is on at the same time. Unfortunately the booklets got soggy rather quickly as the rain decided to show up early. We only needed to follow the rest of the crowds however to find out where we were going.
After doing the Famous Five trail at Wisley Gardens last summer, my daughter knew the drill and was very good at spotting the life-sized characters.
First we spied Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail. Cheeky enjoyed playing peekaboo behind them while my eldest, Mrs T, was delighted to have found not one but three of Beatrix Potter characters!
As the rain started drizzling we headed into the humid warmth of Kew’s Victorian conservatory, the Palm House, where we climbed the steep spiral staircase to the top (quite a workout holding a toddler). From there we looked down at the tropical plants from above.
Heading back outside we found Mr Jeremy Fisher.
And Jemima Puddle-duck.
I haven’t read the books in a while so naming the characters on the trail were a test for my memory!
There was no issue remembering this one though. Mrs T’s namesake, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. I had to get a photo of the two of them.
We happened upon one of the colourful sculptures from the dragon trail, brightening this drizzly morning. There are six to discover in the dragon trail – five of them designed by winners of a Blue Peter competition. An exhibition ‘Here Be Dragons’ is on next to Kew Palace. The trail and exhibition are on until 30 September.
With the rain turning heavier we went into the Princess of Wales conservatory. On our last visit it had been turned into a scene from Thailand for its Orchid Festival.
This time there were no water dragons or temple displays but lots of cacti, carnivorous plants and a fair few people too. We didn’t stay too long and soon headed outside where a tent was set up with bunting.
Arts and craft activities such as make-your-own bunny ears were available and some hot cross buns to eat too. On the grass were large vegetables you’d find in Mr McGregor’s garden which we could touch and learn about. Everyday there’s the opportunity to sow your own seeds and listen to some of Beatrix Potter’s tales too.
The staff were keeping everyone’s spirits up in spite of the rain but we didn’t get to participate as much as we’d have liked due to the weather. We helped build a warren using some branches and Cheeky enjoyed walking through the tunnel, oblivious to the pouring rain.
Due to the rain, I didn’t have much time to linger and read the placards next to the characters. Most of them had botanical references, designed to educate.
I managed to find Squirrel Nutkin set in front of The Hive.
It was time to warm up and get something to eat so we went to the Orangery (along with the rest of the families) to eat some food before going home. We didn’t find Peter Rabbit himself – but there’s still time. The Peter trail is on until 15 April. No doubt the excitement (and hopefully the rain) will have subsided for the remainder of event.
Peter Rabbit Trail at Kew Gardens
– The Peter Rabbit trail is included in the price of entry to Kew Gardens. Online prices range from £17.75 for adults £4 for children and under 4s are free.
– Most of the activities are on daily from 10.30- 3.30pm.
– Beatrix Peter storytelling is on weekends and bank holidays in the Princess of Wales conservatory. 30 minute performances at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm.
– For more information on the Peter Rabbit trail take a look at the website.
– Kew Gardens is located in southwest London. It opens at 10am and closes at 5.45pm (last entry 5.15pm). Parking is limited.
– Kew Gardens tube station (district line to Richmond) is a 5 minute walk away.
– Kew Bridge railway station is around a 5 minute walk. Trains run regularly from London Waterloo. The 65 bus stops by the Victoria and Lion Gate of the Gardens.
Pin for later