Autumn has got to be my favourite season. Russet-hued falling leaves, chestnuts, that crisp, fresh air, and of course an abundance of pumpkins. Sadly, this is the only time we get to see pumpkins in the UK, so it was nice to see so many of them (75 varieties), and so proudly displayed, at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in Richmond, Surrey.

In the Waterlily House, a pumpkin pyramid featuring varieties of pumpkins from all over the world, many of which I had never seen before, such as the Red October and the Buttercup – which is black – rose from the water. Around the edge of the pond, there were pumpkin displays from different continents, featuring traditional recipes and ingredients.

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Kew Gardens, as it is more commonly known, was founded in 1759, becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. It is a world leader in plant science and conservation.

As well as beautiful plants, trees and flowers, Kew Gardens features many decorative structures, the tallest of which is the Pagoda. It is 163 feet high and has 10 stories, completed in 1762. The size of the Pagoda is impressive and looks fabulous from a distance, but it doesn’t look particularly interesting close-up. It was once adorned with 80 gold dragons and was very colourful. After restoration, it unfortunately looks a little bland.

Another decorative structure is The Japanese Gateway, a replica of the Gate of Nishi Hongan-ji (Western Temple of the Original Vow) in Kyoto, although it is not as large. It was built in 1910 and the landscaping has been specifically created to complement the Japanese design.

Kew also has eight glasshouses including The Palm House, designed by Decimus Burton and engineered by Richard Turner. It was constructed between 1844 and 1848 using iron and 16,000 panes of glass, at a time when the Victorians started to import tropical plants to Europe. It features a walkway around the top so you can look down on all of the palms and exotic blooms. In the lower level of the Palm House there is an aquarium with seahorses and upside down jelly fish – a new one on me. I think one of the seahorses was pregnant: his belly was huge!

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A newish addition to Kew is the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, an 18 metre (59ft) high construction, which opened in 2008. It was nice walking around the path amongst the tree tops but if you’re looking for a view, there isn’t much to see beyond the leaves.

Overall, Kew Gardens is a very nice day out, one that would be enjoyed by all ages. It’s the kind of place that you’d want to visit every season. The squirrels, geese and peacocks seem to agree.

The pumpkin displays last until November 3rd. Adult tickets cost £14.50, open daily from 9.30am. Visit http://www.kew.org for more information and upcoming events.

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