Visit the greenhouses!
I took this photo at the entrance to the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. I’m a sucker for greenhouses / botanical gardens in general in Kew is probably the coolest one I’ve ever visited. I’ve been wanting to go there ever since I was a child and it exceeded my high expectations. I spent 3 hours there and wasn’t able to see all of the greenhouses, or really much of the grounds, in that time. The palm house was probably the coolest part of Kew for me. It was cold and rainy when I went so it would have been worth it for the climate alone, but all of the rare and odd plants made it even more worth it. The cycad in the foreground of the picture is 245 years old, making it 1 year older than the USA and also the oldest living potted plant in the world. Seeing that right when I walked in was pretty awe-inspiring.
I also visited the greenhouses at the Cambridge Botanic Garden, the Chelsea Physic Garden, and Darwin’s greenhouse at Down House. All of those were also very worth seeing. They were unique in their own ways, but seeing the commonalities to all of these Victorian greenhouses also helped me imagine what botany might have been like in England in the 19th century.
No Sheep Worrying!
These sheep were watching me as I walked along Darwin’s “thinking path” at Down House. The woods there are in a very different state than they would have been in Darwin’s time, but it was still very cool and humbling to be able to retrace his steps. It was a bit “meta” to be thinking about Darwin thinking there. I’ll admit I didn’t come up with anything as brilliant as “descent with modification” on my walk.
The caption here refers to a sign near the entrance advising visitors not to “worry” sheep. There wasn’t an explanation of what that meant, and I assumed it was telling people not to harass the sheep. I Googled “sheep worrying” later and found out it was actually telling people not to let their dogs harass the sheep. Definitely a very English thing to call it.
Jar of Moles?
Why is there a jar of moles? No idea. I saw this in person at the Grant Museum of Zoology and there was no further information about this than the label in the photo. I visited the Grant and also the University Museum of Zoology at Cambridge, and would highly recommend visiting both. They contained a lot of really interesting and rare zoological specimens. A lot of mounted skeletons, stuffed birds, and very confusing jars of things in formaldehyde or alcohol. Both contained multiple specimens of the extinct thylacine, or “marsupial lion”, from Australia. It was really cool to see their bones in person, but also a bit depressing when you consider that hunting thylacines for museum collections would have played a role in their extinction. I’d still really recommend visiting both zoological museums though.