Recently we were invited along to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to explore what they have on offer for children.
First up, the Log Trail. We were given a tour of the trail by Kew's Head of the Arboretum Tony Kirkham. A man who is so passionate about getting the younger generation excited about trees, Tony was a joy to listen to.
"If through my job I can get one child in the thousands of children that visit Kew to choose a career working with trees then I'll be a very happy man" he tells us. He also explains that this Log Trail is entirely made up of tree's which fell in the storms earlier this year, and the trail was designed and built by his team at Kew for free with the resources they have. Fired by their imaginations it's shaped up to be a really lovely trail that children will adore.
Set in the Conservation Area at Kew, amongst the shade of the trees the Log Trail tests your balancing skills whether you are young or old. Kew gardens recommend that the Log Trail is ideal for the over 7's but Ozzy, aged 5 and Kitty, aged 6 managed the trail with relative ease, although they were challenged in places.
Trees used include beech, ash, oak, eucalyptus and pine, and to help people identify which tress have been used, they even have their names carved into them - it's a nice touch that can lead into some dialogue between child and parent too, comparing the different types of woods, noting the colours and differences.
Other fun activities for children at Kew include:
The Barefoot Trail, which is exactly as it sounds, a trail for you to do barefoot. It sees you walk / hobble/ squelch across wood, stone, cobbles, sand, pine cones, grass, water, charcoal, mud and more before reaching the water station at the end where toes can be cleaned off. Great fun for both children and grown ups.
Lotions and Potions Workshop. for £3 per child, they can learn about and get hands-on experience, making a balm. Kitty and Ozzy made a healing potion using comfrey which can be used on bruises and bumps. The ladies running this were attentive and engaging - and Kit and Oz have been using their potions ever since at every available opprtunity. There's been a lot of 'Is this a bruise mummy?'... "No darling that's dirt"... 'Oh' *sad face*
Comfrey Ointment Recipe
Pestle and Mortar
2 tablespoons chopped and pounded comfrey or dried variety
50 ml vegetable oil
3 rounded tsp grates beeswax
Chop herbs and grind using the pestle and mortar
Infuse comfrey in 50ml vegetable oil for 30 minutes
Simmer do not boil
Strain into plastic jug and return the liquid to the pan, discarding the solids
Add 3 tsp of wax and stir until melted
Pour into containers and allow to cool before sealing.
Whilst you wait for it to solidify, which takes literally 10 minutes, you can make a label for it, to remind you what the balm can and cannot be used for:
Apply as needed for bumps and bruises. This slave is for external use only, as it is known to cause liver damage if ingested. Avoid using on broken skin. It can last up to year if kept refrigerated.
Avoid using on broken skin
Hug a Tree, well who wouldn't want to when they look this cosy?
These crocheted sleeves were made by Knitiffi having been commissioned by Kew Gardens for their Summer of Plant celebration, Plantasia.
Choose your Healing Hero - Learn about five important medicinal plants, then vote for the one you think is most important. Once you've picked one, you pick up a piece of coloured wool for that plants 'colour' and attached it to the knitted 'tree cosy' installation, the idea being that it will create a striking art feature which will evolve throughout the festival.
Prices: Adults £15, Children under 16 - Free, Disabled, Students and Senior Citizens £14. Registered Blind and carers for adult disabled visitors - Free
Travel: Kew Gardens is in London and parking is extremely limited. We did manage to bag a car parking space on the A307, Kew Road,where parking is free after 10am - a word of advice though, theses spaces all went within 10 minutes. If you can't park there then you are pretty stuck so I would recommended getting the underground if you can. All travel info here: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/plan-your-visit/getting-here
More information: Visit the Kew Gardens website