Kew's Autumn Harvest Festival

Kew's Autumn Harvest Festival
New England to Kew, England
Kew’s Autumn Harvest Festival
7 – 29 October 2006
Supported by Ocean Spray

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew will have more than its usual amount of autumn colour on show this year as it prepares a visual feast of autumn harvest – from red cranberries, to orange pumpkins, yellow squashes, and green apples…

5.3 Million Cranberries


Photographs by Roy Fisher, courtesy Ocean Spray

The 2006 autumn festival, supported by Ocean Spray, will see them bring to life their spectacular cranberry harvesting scenes typical to New England.  In the wet harvesting of cranberries the fields are flooded and machines like eggbeaters dislodge the berries, allowing them to float to the surface creating huge swathes of red. Booms are then used to gather the cranberries from the water surface.  This process will be recreated in an exciting display in the Palm House pond by floating over 5.3 million cranberries within booms.  The history of the cranberry harvesting process and the growers’ cooperative will be explored in an exhibit, short film and photo display in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, and you can sample the end product in cranberry juice tasting sessions every weekend in the Temple of Arethusa.

30 Tonnes of Pumpkin

Back by popular demand this year is Kew’s spectacular display of cucurbits in the Waterlily House.  30 tonnes of pumpkins, gourds and squashes will be arranged into a spiralling tower.  Learn how these strange looking fruits are cultivated, and the reasons for their use in folklore traditions.  Elsewhere, there will be a 6 metre figure of a running man constructed from pumpkins.  A variety of different sized pumpkin varieties, including Rocket, Racer and Howden Big Boy, will be cleverly used to carefully create his athletic form.

200 Varieties of Apple

This autumn you can discover some of the amazing diversity in apple varieties in a display of over two hundred types, in association with Brogdale, the national fruit collection.  The exhibition will explore how the cultivation of species has led to such huge range of flavours, colours and smells and evocative names such as Sheep’s Snout, Brown Cockle, and Slack-my-girdle.  Tasting sessions will give visitors the chance to relish a taste of Olde England, whilst Brogdale fruit and juices will be available to buy.

Between 21 and 28 October there will be free half-term fruit-based craft activities in the Climbers and Creepers play zone.  Aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 9, the sessions at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm daily, will include making monsters out of fruit and vegetables, spooky mask making, and ‘cranberry art’!  Each morning, between 11.00am and 12.30pm there will be fruit themed colouring and drawing.  On Sunday 29 October there will be special Halloween fun and games, including face-painting.  These sessions will start at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.  Alternatively, listen to ghostly tales of Kew whilst you sit aboard the Kew Explorer Ghost Train and journey around the magnificent ancient Gardens on 28 and 29 October, at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm from Victoria Gate.

Let’s not forget the glorious autumn colour in Kew’s arboretum at this time of year.  The BBC will launch a new series called The Trees That Made Britain this autumn.  Tony Kirkham, the Head of Kew’s Arboretum, travels the length and breadth of the UK to showcase how much-loved native species have shaped and formed the Kingdom's past – its beliefs, its industry, its battles and its buildings.  If you want to see the trees that made Britain first hand, take a guided tour with one of Kew’s volunteer guides – every day except Monday, 12noon, from the Guides’ Desk, just inside Victoria Plaza, FREE.

Kew Gardens opens daily during the autumn festival at 9.30am and closes at 6.00pm.  Please note that the closing time will change on October 29 2006 in accordance with GMT.  Glasshouses close 30 minutes prior to, and restaurants 1 hour prior to closing time.  Adult admission £11.75, concessions £8.75, children under 17 FREE.

Climbers and Creepers sessions last for 20 minutes.  There is a maximum of 20 children in each session and places are bookable on a first come first served basis with a member of Climbers & Creepers staff on the day.  All activities are intended for children 3-9yrs old - some of the materials used are not suitable for those under 3.  Children must be accompanied by an adult during the activities, as they must during all of their time in Climbers & Creepers.  All activities are FREE.

Explorer Ghost Train tours last 35 minutes.  Tickets must be purchased from the driver.  Adults £3.50 and children £1.00.

Ocean Spray Cranberry Growers

Nestled among the towns and villages of US and Canada are more than 17,000 acres of cranberry bogs – the workplace for nearly 600 farming families.  For six generations these families have nurtured and cultivated the wetlands; provided shelter and habitat for native plants and animals; and helped to preserve the spectacular New England countryside.

Last year the growers from Ocean Spray celebrated 75 years as an agricultural cooperative.  In that time farmers have brought about many improvements in cultivation including the ingenious method of wet harvesting, introduced during the 1950s.  Significant strides were also made in the marketing of the crop.  Independent scientific research into the health benefits of cranberries supported by the Ocean Spray growers has helped unlock many amazing facts, which has given it its well-deserved super fruit status.

Ocean Spray - awash with goodness.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction and its 132 hectares of landscaped gardens attract over one million visitors per year.  Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and represents over 250 years of historical landscape. The site houses over 40 listed buildings and other structures including the Palm House, Temperate House, Orangery and Pagoda as well as two ancient monuments, Queen Charlotte's Cottage and Kew Palace.  RBG, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world.

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