A few key points about Kew Gardens: It is huge. It is impressive. It is not cheap.
Admission is ￡15 for adults. I balked at this a little but bit the bullet and went in, and I didn't feel as if I'd been ripped off. However, Kew is massive, and you're on your own for getting around. So you may have trouble packing it all in, depending on when you start out.
Kew does not consist of gardens simply for enjoying, like the other royal parks have (e.g., lots of nice roses and a fountain), although those do exist. The park (to me, it's a park) has numerous little greenhouses and other buildings and areas that showcase different plants from different climates (e.g., temperate, tropical, desert, alpine) and specialty plants, like water plants and carnivores. I wouldn't want to guess at how many genuses are covered, but each building includes hundreds of species, and it's very hard to process it all. The palm house's showcase piece is a cycad from the 1700s, still going strong. One part also has some fish on display, including a piranha.
There's an evolution hall that shows the different plants growing on earth at different points in history, which was neat. However, I must confess I didn't handle the treetop walkway well at all. I had trouble getting up because of injuries to my legs during the trip. When I got there, I found that the floor of the walkway is a metal grate, and you can see through the holes to the ground way, way below. So I hurried around it as fast as I could and went back down.
I ate lunch at the Orangerie, and it was quite good. I had a packaged sandwich, packaged salad, and a slice of bakewell tart.
I am personally interested in the world of fungi. Research into it occurs there, I gather. As far as I know, there was no official display of it, but then fungi can be very hard to cultivate.
In summary, I found it was worth visiting. If you have zero interest in walking around and looking at interesting plants, however, skip it. :-)
We spent a lovely, sunny, May bank holiday in Kew Gardens. We took the 1 1/2 hour train journey from home, which meant we could take advantage of the 2 for 1 entry offer.
It was our first time visiting the gardens and they had been recommended to us by a friend who has a season ticket. She finds it a great place to take the kids, who do not have to pay an entrance fee.
The gardens are huge and you would do very well and have to be incredibly fit, to get to see everything it has to offer in one day. We decided that we would take the advice of the park leaflet and concentrate on the highlights.
We entered the gardens at Victoria Gate at about 11:30 and first took a stroll around the Palm House, which is a huge Victorian glasshouse. We spent an hour in here and so it was time for sit down on one of the numerous park benches scattered liberally around and devour our packed lunch.
It was then off to the Waterlily House to admire the floating beauties, followed by the Princess of Wales Conservatory, with its prickly cactus plants.
We then off to climb amongst the tree tops. Kew has a spectacular treetop walkway. It's well worth the climb of 118 steps to get amongst the high branches.
We also took a walk around the Azalea Garden and the Rhododendron Dell and then onto the to the pagoda.
After a cup of tea and a cake, we stepped into another huge glasshouse called the Temperate House. This enormous greenhouse if full of all the plants you can think off.
All in all, we had a great day at Kew and will certainly be back again, when we can to see the rest of the gardens that we had missed.
Considering it was a bank holiday and there were plenty of people in the gardens it was still possible to find yourselves alone with the plants and the trees. This is a real place to let yourself breathe.
Kew Gardens were founded in 1759 by Augusta; princess of Wales. In 1840 these were donated to the nation. These gardens are also a botanical research center.
Today they cover an area of 300 acres and are home of thousands of species of plants from all over the world. Inside the gardens there are also some glasshouses and some buildings ( Queen's Charlotte Cottage, the Holland House., the Mariane North Gallery...).
The 300 acres of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew ("Kew Gardens") is more than just a repository of botanical life - it is also of historical significance and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For most people, though, it is just a simply wonderful outdoor space to visit. There is easily enough to do/see here over several hours. The Gardens has two iconic glasshouses built in the mid 1800s - the Palm House and the Temperate House - as well as a 10-storey Chinese pagoda constructed in 1762. It has many themed sections, including the largest bamboo collection in Europe. The garden and gift shop is also excellent. Admission cost GBP12.25 for adults and free for children under 17 years (2007 prices).
Kew Gardens is great place to visit if you like plants and gardens, otherwise, it's boring. There are a few indoor areas (glass houses) where you can stroll even when the weather isn't that great outdoors. The whole area covers over 300 acres and there are several different areas such as the Japanese, Mediterranean, bamboo, rock, rose, aquatic, azalea gardens.. One of the oldest green houses has tall banana plants and palm trees, hence it's called the Palm House. It is a rather tall building and it is over 160 years old, from the Victorian period.
Kew Gardens was inscribed on the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites in 2003.
Admission is pricey. Even before the closing time of the glass houses they still charge over £10.
Opening times vary. Usually it opens at 9.30am and closes before dusk. Check the website for more details.
One of Britain's UNESCO World Heritage sites (since 2003), the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew still doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. The village of Kew developed when Henry VII built his palace at nearby Richmond and it needed services for all the new noble visitors sailing here, and it was in the 17th century that it started to take off with the grand landscape designing of the time and nobility and others aquiring various plots of land. One of these plots was owned by a Flemish immigrant who built what was to become known as the Dutch House, today Kew Palace, with a distinct Dutch architecture. It is a popular palace to visit when seeing Kew itself and was once the home of King George III and Queen Charlotte.
There has been a botanical garden at Kew since 1759 and a major reason for its success and international fame is of course Britain's history with an empire stretching around the World so that exotic plants were always brought back to London and gathered the best scientists. Even today, new things keeps coming in and there is a huge seed bank and various theme events. There is an awful lot of material about Kew's history and collections on the website below where you can also see what's going on at the time of your visit. I love just strolling around, popping into various greenhouses and looking at huge palms or odd orchids with the most bizarre forms.
Kew Gardens is a beautiful place. It consists of formal gardens, manicured lawns and botanical greenhouses.
One of the main attractions is the Palm House, a metal and glass greenhouse filled with tropical plants.
Each year in spring they have an orchid festival, which is well worth a look.
This is a fabulous place for all the family. Visit in spring to see all of the flowering bulbs all over the gardens.
In summer there are concerts and in winter they have an ice rink.
After viewing Kew Palace, we hopped onto the little train that takes you around the Gardens.. we didn’t have much time here (only an afternoon), so thought this would be the best way to view it.
It was super, except for the fact we had VERY noisy and disruptive kids behind us the whole trip. We battled to hear the commentary as a result. It cost us £3.50 each.
We saw a lot though and will go back and bring a picnic and do it properly. There are 300 acres to see after all!
The gardens are a mix of order and wildness it seems to me. They have formal landscaped sections, green houses and less cultivated areas.
The Chinese pagoda reaches high into the sky and is Kew’s most recognisable feature.
Something that piqued my fancy was the Grass Garden. I have a deep love and fascination of paper, enjoy making it and using it to create. Inside the garden there are over 600 varieties of grasses from all over the world.
Next door is the Wood House, where they explain how to make paper and its origins. All very interesting!
On the little train we also drove quite close to the Thames River, where we could see people walking, playing ball and cycling. We think a picnic would go down well there! So, we will be back in summer!
There are various entrances into Kew Gardens. We went in through the ornate gates on the Kew side.
The queues were long (It was Easter Sunday, apparently the BUSIEST day of the year for them) We queued outside for 40 minutes, then went in.
First stop, Kew Palace!
Kew Palace is absolutely beautiful. Stunning. Three floors have been opened to the public again after 10 years, after extensive renovation work.
It was built in 1631 and is where Queen Charlotte and their family lived. She loved it. She died in the house, in a chair.
This gives you an intimate glimpse into the Royal lives that once lived and loved here.
Entrance is £5 for adults and £3 for kids.
It is a large garden (of 112 ectars if I'm right) of land, with many amazing plants, there exists 1/8 of all world's spieces of plants.
You can have a picnic with friends, family or others.
Take the train tour if you want to go around the whole garden without being exhausted, you can even get on the train, get down at any stop, relax or have a picnic and than get again on train to continue the tour.
Plan a whole day for Kew Gardens, it's a great place for a picnic combined with an entertaining botany lesson. Beautiful buildings (incl. a pagoda!) and greenhouses surrounded by flowers, trees and plants of all sorts. At the time of my visit (1997) it claimed to be the world's largest plant collection and I think it still is. I went in October and the weather was great but even if it's nasty there is so much to see in the greenhouses. I particularly liked the Palm House and the rain forest section where the humidity was so high that my camera needed time to adjust. For me it was great to see how some plants really looked like when I had only seen the end products (coffee, cocoa, tea, vanilla, cinnamon...). I wondered how the New World explorers had felt when they first tried chocolate...
More pics coming soon
Kew Gardens is a leading centre of botanical research, a training ground for professional gardeners, and a popular visitor attraction. The gardens are mostly quite informal, with a few more formal areas. There are extensive conservatories, a herbarium, and a library.
Kew is important as a repository of seeds; it has one of the most important seedbanks. With the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Australian National Herbarium, they co-operate in the IPNI database to produce an authoritative source of information on the nomenclature of plants.
They were, however, one of the animals that seem to derive much benefit from the gardens as shown in the first picture. I specifically timed my visit to co-incide with the autumnal colours which were certainly there, if not in profusion.
I racked off half a dozen shots to get the opening one, just wanted to see that beak in the water, the others were just taken while I was meandering around in the lovely autumn sun, such a change from what I had experienced in the rest of the country.
This is a great day out. Tickets are 10 pounds for adults - children under 16 go free.
There is great accessibility for wheelchair users (tickets 7GBP, but their essential carers get in for free).
There is so much to see and do here - great place to take the kids with aerial walkways in the glass houses, marine displays and a special *botanical* play area called Climbers and Creepers an all weather facility with organised art activities.
For the adults there are the 19th Century glass houses, Rose Gardens, Arboretum, Temperate House, Princess of Wales Conservatory, and the Kew Explorer - There's more info and pics on my Kew page Kew Gardens
Take a picnic or have lunch in the coffee shop. A piece of cake and a coffee will set you back about 4GBP.
Whilst at the Kew Gardens I had the fortune/misfortune (delete whichever is appropriate) to notice (hard not to when it's jammed in front of your eyes) the glass works of an American named Chihuly. Some felt it was "a unique relationship between gardens and glass". Others wondered what on earth the glass sculptor had done to con his way into this natural setting.
Personally, at times they grated on me, at other times (particularly in the Temperate House) I thought they were really neat.
Since I am personally committed to being in favour of giving any kind of art a go, though there have been glaring examples down through the years when I wish they had died before giving birth to such appalling works, I tolerated this impost on what I had expected to be a purely natural work by Mother Nature.
Apparently much of Chihuly's inspiration came from similar works in Finland where his team experimented by tossing glass into the river and letting it float downstream. Local children in boats gathered them up and apparently this was what inspired Chuhuly.
Children, leave them alone next time.
I didn't mind the Macchia or the Ikebana, the latter named after the stylised beauty of Japanese floral arrangements which Chihuly admired on visits to Japan. No, it was all the rubbish sitting in an otherwise pristine pool and a multitude of balls strung up next to one of the Gardens' showpieces, the Chilean palm, that I found at odds with my expectations.