Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a legendary botanic garden acclaimed the world over for the sheer diversity of its expansive grounds. Operated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew organization, Kew Gardens has been in existence for over 250 years now, and it remains one of the most famous and well-regarded botanic gardens on the planet. Most visitors come to Kew Gardens to experience the beauty of the site’s many themed gardens and scenic walkways, but the gardens are also home to an immense herbarium and esteemed library, too.

Money Saving Tip! Kew Gardens is included on the London Pass. If you are sightseeing in London, then you can save a lot of money with the pass.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,

History of Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens can trace its history back to 1759, when Augusta, the Princess of Wales, first arranged for a nearly 10-acre garden to be constructed alongside the royal residences at Kew Palace. Within ten years the famed botanist Joseph Banks had become the unofficial director of Kew, and the gardens were on their way to becoming a notable resource for scientists. In 1840, Kew Gardens opened to the public, with some of its more famous facilities—like the Temperate House, Herbarium, and Palm House—opening over the course of the next two decades.

Kew Gardens was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, the same year the attraction’s state-of-the art Alpine House was finished. In 2008, Kew’s Treetop Walkway opened to the public, as did the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art. This museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary botanical art, and routinely stages special exhibits and hosts renowned scholars of botanical artworks from all over the world.

Kew Gardens Highlights

One of the primary treasures worth exploring at Kew Gardens is its Arboretum, which comprises the majority of the site. In total, the Arboretum numbers some 14,000 trees drawn from roughly 2,000 distinctive species. Notable trees located within Kew’s Arboretum are the Lucombe oak, the black locust tree, and the Japanese pagoda tree—all of which date back as long ago as the eighteenth century. The Arboretum’s Redwood Grove is also not to be missed. Regardless of which trees you’re most interested in viewing, a stroll through the Arboretum makes for the perfect way to anchor a visit to Kew Gardens.

If you’ll be visiting Kew Gardens as part of a family with kids, you won’t want to miss the Children’s Garden. This exciting area contains a number of kid-centric spaces where your little ones can explore nature and learn all about plants. Of particular note in the Children’s Garden are four “elemental gardens,” including Earth Garden, where kids can climb through a “living bamboo tunnel”; Air Garden, with an assortment of trampolines, hammocks, and so-called windflowers; Sun Garden, home to a winding walking path lined by sunflowers; and Water Garden, which has its own stream complete with water lily-inspired stepping stones.

Other highlights of Kew Gardens would have to include Bamboo Garden and Minka House, which consists of a traditional Japanese farmhouse set in the midst of 130 species of bamboo cultivated from across the world; Davies Alpine House, a remarkable indoor facility that reproduces the conditions necessary for high-altitude plants to flourish; and Temperate House, Kew’s historic, Victorian-era greenhouse. Temperate House has been painstakingly restored in the past decade, and with its collection of over 10,000 plants, it’s an essential stop here.

More to See and Do at Kew Gardens

A visit to Kew Gardens can be a very rewarding experience, especially if you’re aware of the following details.

•Located right next to the Children’s Garden is the Family Kitchen and Shop, a popular place for food and treats for the entire group. The menu here has pizzas, salads, and a selection of ice creams, while an attached gift shop ensures the perfect souvenir can be found for every member of the family.

•Several other dining options exist at Kew Gardens. The Orangery is perfect for a quick lunch or coffee break, while the Pavilion Bar and Grill does Mediterranean dishes for lunch or an early dinner. Kew Gardens’ most formal (and expensive) food spot is The Botanical Brasserie. There you can enjoy a sit-down breakfast, lunch, or afternoon tea service.

•Visitors with a specific interest in learning more about the science behind many of Kew’s botanical operations may want to make time to explore the Arboretum Nursery. This modern facility is open for viewing hours daily between 10:00am and 2:00pm, and guests can observe how Kew’s expert staff go about growing, cultivating, and caring for the gardens’ thousands of plants and trees.

•The Great Broad Walk Borders makes for a brief but enchanting stroll, and is well worth checking out. So, too, is the Rhododendron Dell, especially if you’re lucky enough to be visiting in April or May, when the area is in peak form.

•Parking at Kew Gardens is quite limited, so if you must drive to the attraction, plan to arrive early. The small number of parking spaces available here are first come, first served. When in doubt, take public transportation to Kew Gardens—it’s likely to spare you a headache or two.

Why Kew Gardens Should Be on Your Must-See List

Simply put, Kew Gardens is one of the world’s foremost botanical treasures. Its vast collection of plants, trees, bushes, grasses, and more make it a vital stop for any London visitor with even a passing interest in our natural world. No matter the time of year, something beautiful and rare is liable to be in season here, firmly establishing Kew Gardens as a terrific addition to any London itinerary.