Hope your week is going well? As promised some time back I will be sharing with you my visit to Kew Gardens followed by a meeting with an extraordinary embroidery group in Ireland in June this year- where is the time going!!
Following my visit to Tunbridge Wells and Search Press I spent a few days in London with my daughters and visited Kew Gardens to meet with the publishing department and chat about the forthcoming book.. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is a world leading botanic gardens in UK which includes Kew Gardens in Richmond upon Thames, London and Wakehurst in Sussex. It has the largest and most diverse living plant collection in the world and houses a collection of more than 200,000 botanical paintings and illustrations. There are shops, restaurants, tea rooms, architectural treasures and galleries – so much to see and do, virtually impossible to see all in one day.
I was very excited to see it for the first time and to meet the people that I had been in contact with over the previous 18 months. Kew publishes their own books and also sub contracts other publishers like Search Press to publish books on their behalf. You can see many examples in their giftshop. If you are like me I head for the gift shop at my earliest opportunity – It gave me a little thrill to be told that my book would be included in the Kew collection and sold in the Kew giftshop in the future.
On arrival I was met by Pei Chu, Publishing and Image Licensing Assistant and shown around the Kew Herbarium, which houses approximately 7 million specimens, collected from all around the world. All I can say is Wow, I was in complete awe! I spoke to some volunteers who were busy mounting, pressed and dry specimens from the 17th century, they had to be ultra careful as these specimens were quite brittle but deftly arranged them on an archival sheet ready for preserving on file. I was told that these specimens are valuable to scientists who use them to obtain DNA for plant research in the present day.
On a side note they are always looking for volunteers to conduct research, help in the library, herbarium and gardens. To quote “You could be part of a team helping to solve critical challenges like climate change, food security and biodiversity loss.”
Next we visited the Kew library where they have one of the largest collections of published botanical information in the world. Finally I was taken to the Publishing department and on the way saw botanical illustrations housed behind glass in archival temperatures that could be seen but not touched, just beautiful. Here I was introduced to Lydia White, sales and marketing manager and the staff in the publishing department. Thank you Pei and Lydia for the gift of the book and for showing me around, I loved it.
When the meeting was over I decided to take advantage of the Kew explorer land train which shuttles people around the gardens. I met a lady on the train from Sussex who was in for the day, and we had a lovely chat as the train meandered its way through the gardens pointing out the sights as we went along.
I was excited to see the Shirley Sherwood gallery in particular as you may remember many years back that I gained permission to use some of her botanical paintings for reproduction into embroidery including the Iris Spartan by artist Graham Rust shown here and it was great to view some of the originals.
It was a wonderful day, I highly recommend a visit to Kew Gardens if you are ever in London, and I hope to go back and see more when I am next in the UK. Next my family and I headed for Ireland where we spent some time in Dingle and then drove to Dublin. En route to Dublin we stayed in Kilkea Castle in Kerry where I had arranged to meet an embroidery group from County Leitrim.
You may remember my Blog post about these ladies that call themselves the “Sexy Sewers” from County Leitrim , Ireland? These seven ladies have met every week for many years now and inspire, teach and encourage each other to try different styles of embroidery. They drove a few hours from their home town to meet with me and I had the privilege of spending a lovely morning with such talented, special, people and seeing some of their beautiful embroideries. Thank you Rosemary and Val for arranging it, for your lovely gift and for just being you. I hope we meet again in the future, but we are always together in the same mind through our embroidery.
Till next time, wherever you are in the world, keep smiling and happy stitching.