Kew Gardens - see trees as never before
Feature by Lizzie Guilfoyle
THIS MONTH, a new permanent attraction opens at Kew Gardens – the Rhizotron, which is located deep within the gardens between the Evolution House and the Lake.
Entered through an apparent crack in the earth, the Rhizotron is described as a fun, intriguing and educational ‘secret place’ showcasing the lively natural world beneath our feet and explaining the vital relationship between tree roots and micro-organisms in the soil.
Bronze castings of root-inspired pipework lining the walls will display animated installations, while a stained-glass mosaic illuminated with changing LED lighting depicts the intimate associations of mycorrhizas (fungi in partnership with tree roots).
A unique design by Marks Barfield, the architects of the London Eye, the Rhizotron (taken from the Greek word rhiza, meaning root) will provide a unique opportunity to delve into the unseen, underground world of trees – to see the fantastic shapes of roots and root fungi and to meet the strange creatures of the soil.
You can also view Kew’s beautiful trees from the Xstrata Treetop Walkway which runs high inside and above the tree canopy – a ‘classroom in the treetops’.
The main structure is made from weathering steel, which will change colour over time and blend in with the bark and leaf tones in the gardens. The side supports are of an ingenious pattern based on the Fibonacci sequence, often found in natural growth patterns such as the scales of pine cones or the arrangement of leaves in a bud.
Along the walkway, at wider gathering points or nodes, 3D sculpted bronze plaques offer striking new perspectives on tree biology. For example, discover the connections with helicopters, skyscrapers, skin and global warming and go home a wiser person.
If you love Kew, you’ll love Joanna Jackson’s beautiful book, A Year in the Life of Kew Gardens.
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