Famous the world over, Kew Gardens, or more correctly, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, is one of Southwest London’s most popular attractions. Easily reached by the underground, bus, or train, the gardens contain the most important collection of plants and trees in the world. With the gardens covering 330 acres and with more than 30,000 types of plants, there is more than enough to see on any visit.
The Arboretum – accounts for more than half of the gardens and houses a huge collection of trees. It’s in three sections: The North contains the original botanic garden that dates back to 1759; the West which is home to the Rhododendron Dell, Kew Lake and the Bamboo Garden; and the South which housed Queen Charlotte’s Cottage and the Berberis Dell.
The mile-long Holly Walk which contains some trees planted in 1875, is a wonderful place for a stroll.
Collections of plants are housed indoors in structures that demonstrate incredible architecture. There are some amazing glasshouses at Kew, some of which are:
The Palm House – one of the most recognisable landmarks, it’s made from 16,000 panes of glass. Housing many rare species including a cycad specimen that’s been at Kew since 1775, there’s an elevated walkway for a bird’s eye view of the plants and trees.
Princess Wales Conservatory – opened by HRH Diana in 1987, the theme here is tropical with 1,500 species of orchids, a collection of tree frogs and interesting ponds containing fish like piranha and water dragons.
The Alpine House – this spectacular glass structure that reaches a height of 10 metres at its centre was designed for alpine plants, more specifically, those that can survive at altitudes of up to 2,130 metres. The star of the collection is a Chilean Blue Crocus – an extremely rare plant once thought to be extinct.
This is just a very small taste of the sights and attractions of the gardens at Kew. Well worth a visit!