Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanical GardensOccupying 326 acres and located in Richmond upon Thames south-west London, a short tube journey from central London. The Royal Botanical Gardens are one of the most famous gardens in the world. Here you will find examples of millions of exotic plants from almost every continent. Walk through the heated tropical forest in the Victorian Palm House, an iconic iron and glass construction including 16,000 panes of glass.

The Palm House was designed by Decimus Burton and built by Richard Turner who used shipbuilding methods. Some say that, from a distance, the structure looks like the hull of an upturned boat.

It is the permanent home to the peach palm, queen palm, coconut palm and also the rare triangle palm from Madagascar.

The Palm House also contains what is believed to be the oldest pot plant in the world called cycad, it came from the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. It’s been at Kew Gardens since 1775.

The giant Cycad

You will find the Princess of Wales Conservatory which houses the Madagascan baobab trees American orchids and a range of carnivorous plants from Asia. You may also notice the giant stinking Titan Arum, the largest flowering plant on earth. The occasions of it blooming are so rare it’s news worthy.

The giant stinking Titan Arum

Kew Gardens have 250 years of royal history with the ‘Queen Charlotte Cottage’ and ‘Kew Palace’. The royal occupation of Kew Palace ended in 1818 and, as a grade 1 listed building, is open to the public but closed through the winter months.

You must take the opportunity to explore one of the more recent additions to the grounds, the Treetop Walkway. It’s located between the Temperate House and the lake. It was designed by Marks Barfield Architects, designers of the London Eye.

The Treetop Walkway

Opened in 2008 this enormous structure blends among, and over, the trees providing a bird’s eye view. Rising 18 metres high you get to see, from a canopy view, some of the oldest trees in the gardens, some being centuries old. The Walkway is a 200 metre loop and to gain access there is an 118 step stairway or for wheelchair access there is a lift. No push chairs are allowed on the Walkway and children must be accompanied by adults. The Walkway attraction is part of the entry fee.

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Within the grounds you will find sculptures including Henry Moore’s ‘Reclining Mother and Child’. Another from Eduardo Paolozzi, ‘Amaximis Ad Minima’.

There is also the Mariannne North Gallery and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, these are included in the entry fee.

There are two restaurants, two cafés and two gift shops within the grounds. If you visit, plan for a long day or plan to visit again because there is much to see. Take a bottle of water to stay hydrated.

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew provide a perfect oasis displaying some of what the natural world has on offer. A place for everyone to relax and absorb this haven of tranquillity. Well worth a visit.

Image sources: Palm_House,_Kew_Gardens,  The cycadTitan Arum and Treetop Walkway 

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