Kew's Treetop Walkway: To Watch the Trees Like a Bird Would
Take a look at a one of the most beautiful gardens in the world from a botanical high.
Perhaps the best stories occur not on a ground level but in a dream level — in the extraordinary dreamers that are trees. Italo Calvino already had this in mind when he imagined the baron in the trees conquering treetops, inhabiting a foreign world which was higher than anything on the terrestrial surface; or the American witch, Taisha Abelar, who was an apprentice of Don Juan Matus and lived an entire year up in the trees without coming down. Both knew that the knowledge of trees lies in their branches (“their confused foliage [are their] thoughts”).
The Treetop Walkway of Kew Gardens, in London, is a passage that allows one to stroll amidst the green giants from a bird’s — or even a tree’s — point of view. And while walking among trees usually means observing nature from our perspective (lower than that of trees but higher than flowers), this is an alternative to looking at trees from their height; the path is specifically created to watch the treetops from up close while being the very size of arborescence.
Designed by Marks Barfield Architects (the firm that designed the London Eye), the Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway debuted to the public in 2008, offering a visual alternative to park visitors. It is an 18-meter tall, 200-meter long structure, which crosses an arboretum (a planned forest) and allows one to walk, suspended, among the monumental English trees. The design is based on a Fibonacci numerical sequence, which is often present in the growth patterns of trees, and pays homage, of course, to the high branches. From here, it is possible to catch a glimpse of life from a view limited to birds and insects, and feel the crackle of the lime trees, oaks, chestnut trees and so many others.
Although a panoramic vision from above isn’t something new (we can have this perspective from a mountain, from an elevated room or on a bridge), a route built specifically for this is the best way to pay attention and to unite us with the environment. It’s always the title that guides our attention. It is in the highest part of the trees where pollination occurs and where the wind murmurs, where one can observe bird and insect behavior and see the fresh buds emerging from each of the branches. But most importantly, it is right here where communication occurs ––and where we have the opportunity to listen to it.
Amid a green and purple tapestry of 14,000 trees, the Treetop Walkway offers us a glimmer of the realm of atmosphere, that which we can only imagine when we look up… and which is now revealed here in the form of a walking platform.
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