I would normally venture to Wakehurst Place in the summer, when the gardens are in full bloom and well populated with interesting insects. However I suspect that yesterday’s visit might be my last, given that some very controversial new charges are soon to be levied most visitors – specifically those who are there as National Trust visitors, or National Trust members (this is because members of Kew will be exempt, as I understand it). Not the fairest situation, to be honest. Wakehurst Place offers a partner site to the Millennium Seed Bank, which is maintained by Kew Gardens who occupy the land under lease. It costs a lot to run the seed bank, particularly as it’s on National Trust property. To finance this it’s been decided that visitors (who pay handsomely to enter Wakehurst) will now pay parking charges of £10 if their stay is more than two hours (five pounds for up to 2 hours – and nobody goes there for just two hours). This is nothing short of extortionate, and doesn’t really make much sense because it will certainly reduce the footfall greatly. Those who do still visit are far less likely to purchase items from the gift shop or the overpriced cafes. Surely it would have made more sense to simply levy a nominal £1.50 parking fee on all visitors, perhaps with a large sign apologising for the new charges but thanking visitors the understanding that the seed bank needs help. I doubt such a low fee would result in lost numbers but it would very likely raise the extra yearly revenue needed. The whole thing is yet another example of management arrogance and shortsighted thinking.
Anyway, since I’m not prepared to pay £10 for parking when I have already spent a small fortune on travel (plus the other costs associated with a visit) this year’s trip to Wakehurst took place earlier than usual. Consequently there weren’t huge numbers of flowers in the gardens, but the visit was pleasant, with a long walk around the perimeter of the estate. As always, a compact camera comes in handy for this kind of thing.
Remember that photographs taken at this locality must not be used for anything other than personal enjoyment. In other words, you can’t put them in a commercial portfolio to sell them (even if it’s just a picture of a plant or flower). This is partly why I have a distinct personal section to my Blog, just for recreational photography.