Virginia Woolf

A Botanical Perspective

Presented by the Botanic Garden of Smith College

Kew Gardens
Excerpts from Virginia Woolf's short story, Kew Gardens.
"For me, a kiss. Imagine six little girls sitting before their easels twenty years ago, down by the side of a lake, painting the waterlilies, the first red water-llilies I'd ever seen and suddenly a kiss, there on the back of my neck..."
"Wherever does one have one's tea?" she asked with the oddest thrill of excitement in her voice, looking vaguely round and letting herself be drawn on down the grass path, trailing her parasol, turning her head this way and that way, forgetting her tea, wishing to go down there and then down there, remenbering orchids and cranes among wild flowers, a Chinese pagoda and a crimson crested bird: but he bore her on.
From the Oval-shaped flower bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves halfway up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue, or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end.
The figures of these men and women straggled past the flower-bed with a curiously irregular movement not unlike that of white and blue butterflies who crossed the turf in zig-zag flights from bed to bed.
Instead of rambling vaguely the white butterflies danced one above another, making with their white shifting flakes the outline of a shattered marble column above the tallest flowers the glass roofs of the plam house shone as if a whole market full of shiny green umbrellas had opened in the sun...
© 2003 Botanic Garden of Smith College