also known as
Royal Botanic Gardens - Kew
Featured Location Guide
"A World Heritage Site"
Kew Gardens, the worlds first Botanic Garden,
covers an area of 300 acres on the banks of the River Thames, and has four
entrances although the main entrance is Victoria Gate off Kew Road.
of Wales Conservatory
A little bit of
They date from 1678 when
it was owned by the Earl of Essex's brother, Sir Henry Capel, it came into Royal
ownership in 1718 and was much visited by George II and Queen Caroline who
stayed there in what was then Richmond Lodge. Their son, Frederick, Prince of
Wales and his wife Augusta enhanced the buildings and gardens and after his
death, George III, his wife Queen Charlotte and his family spent each summer at
Sir Joseph Banks, who had sailed around the
world as botanist with Captain James Cook, was appointed by the King to take
charge of the gardens and he encouraged plant hunters to search for and send
back exotic species from the West Indies, Africa, Australasia, China and India.
The Cycad in the Palm House labelled 'the oldest pot plant in the world' was
brought back from Africa in 1775.
In the early 19th century the gardens suffered
a period of decline with George IV and William IV taking less interest in them,
but by the 20th century the emphasis on science and conservation continued with
the rebuilding of the Jodrell Laboratory, the new Economic House, and the
development of the Library and Herbarium. In 1984 responsibility for Kew Gardens
was placed in the hands of a Board of Trustees under the National Heritage Act.
Visit to Kew
As well as a
large amount of open ground Kew has so much to offer the photographer and
any visitor from it's
many buildings, spectacular statuary, follies, temples, sculptures, parterres, through
to museums and galleries and of course what is
planted within the grounds. See the top attractions list below for a more
detailed look at what you can see.
It also has a large collection of trees, some
lovely walks and many vistas designed to lead the
eye to its treasures. The landscape over time has been fashioned by many of the leading
garden designers of their day including Charles Bridgeman, 'Capability Brown'
and W. A Nesfield. Many of its structures are situated within quiet almost
private - gardens, with wide sweeping lawns, lakes, ponds, in fact it
would be hard to name any garden feature anyone would want that is not at
Kew. It also has a profusion of plants, shrubs, grasses, bamboos and so on of
every kind. You could visit Kew almost every day of the year and see something
new and different each time.
There are many attractions both outside
and undercover at Kew, from the gardens to the buildings as well as various
activities put on for visitors, some of which are listed below, but a detailed
look around their website will give you far more.
Kew's Top Attractions
include 3 buildings which together
cover over four acres of floor space and are home to largest collection of
exotic plants in the world, providing an array of colours and textures sure
- where you can experience a tropical rainforest environment
- their biggest public glasshouse which is home to the world's tallest
Princess of Wales
- houses 10 different climate zones and houses a large variety of plants
including orchids and cacti.
Xstrata Treetop Walkway - This takes you
into the tree canopy some 18 metres up and allows you to get a spectacular
birds-eye view of the Kew.
Other Glasshouses include:-
The Davies Alpine House,
housing a colourful collection of alpine plants. This is the latest
addition to their glasshouses and was the first new glasshouse to be
commissioned for two decades. It is located at the north end of the Rock
The Evolution House,
designed for children, takes you through the 3500m years of plant
The Plants and People Exhibition demonstrates the importance of
plants to mankind.
Bonsai House - it displays at any one
time 10 miniature trees from their collection, some of which are over 150
Marine Display - This is in the basement
of the Palm House and recreates 4 major marine habitats and their plants.
Waterlily House - It was designed to
house the giant waterlilly, but it never thrived there, instead another
one of its closest relatives is housed here in its large pond, together
with other climbers that like the moist environment.
There are also a number of museums,
galleries and historic buildings to explore, including:-
Cambridge Cottage - added to the gardens in
1904, it now houses the Kew Gardens Gallery.
Kew Palace - the smallest of the royal palaces.
Orangey - only surviving plant house designed by
Sir William Chambers.
Pagoda - 10 storey octagonal structure that
stands 163ft high.
Queen Charlottes Cottage - 18th Century thatched
cottage which was a private haven for Queen Charlotte and her family.
Some of the Gardens include:-
- Azalea Garden
King Williams Temple and Mediterranean Garden
Japanese Minka House and Bamboo Garden
Palm House and Rose Garden
Vistas and Landscape Features include:
Broad Walk - from the Palm House to the Orangery
and round the corner to the main gate.
Cedar Vista - the longest of 7 avenues from the
Crocus Carpet - between Victoria Gate and King
Williams Temple in March
- Pagoda Vista
- Princess Walk
- Riverside Walk - between Brentford
Gate and Syon overlook
Syon Vista - a view across the Syon estate
The Lake and Sackler Crossing (a walkway across
- Xstrata Treetop Walk
Water and Wildlife Attractions include:
Woodland Glade and Waterlily Pond
The Palm House
Other Decorative Structures and Gates include:
- Brentford Gate
- Main Gate
- Victoria Gate
- Ruined Arch build in 1759 by Sir William
- Temple of Aeolus built in the 1760's
- Temple of Arethusa - near Victoria Gate
- Temple of Bellona, named after the Roman
goddess of ware
- Temple of imagination - built in 2006
Visiting Kew If
you attempting to make a trip to Kew it is advisable to take time to plan
your visit. In our planning grids below we have tried to give you the basics
of what you need to know, to get you there. However due to it's size (300
acres) and wealth of different items and aspects to see, it is
not possible to do Kew in a single day, and on any visit you should allow at
least 3-4 hours. For this reason it might be wise to take a look at their website and try to
put an itinerary together of what you want to get in on your visit and
anything you particularly want to photograph. Their
shows the various locations of different items and should help you plan a
trip so that you can take in an area at a time, but you will also then
identify which of the 4 entrance gates you need to take for your visit.
They also have
a page dedicated to letting
you know which areas are festooned in colour from the many millions of bulbs
they have planted including daffodils,
snowdrops, crocus, bluebells etc
For the children there is Climbers and Creepers
an indoor interactive botanical play zone, but they also have a
Parents Survival Guide
you some of idea of the sorts of places children will like most and therefore
allow you to plan a suitable visit for the smaller people on your visit.
Japanese Gate and gardens
Further information Grid
Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey
By Road: From M4 take junction 2 and then the
A205 (South Circular) across the River Thames at Kew Bridge. It is well
signposted from all major roads.
By Tube: From central London take the District
Line to Richmond stops at Kew Gardens Station.
Victoria Gate (principal entrance) off Kew
Road, nearest to Kew Gardens station.
Main Gate is on Kew Green. nearest to Kew
Brentford Gate is adjacent to the Car Park
Lion Gate is on Kew Road, the most southerly
and nearest to centre of Richmond.
Car park near Brentford Gate, reached via
Ferry Lane off Kew Green near the Main gate. Max 300 cards, costs £5 for
Free parking available on Kew Road (A307)
after 10am, although can get busy.
Limited parking for disabled drivers, 3 spaces
at main gate and some spaces in main car park.
Kew Explorer Bus gives a running commentary of
sights and you can hop on and off at any of 8 stops throughout the day, full
tour takes 40 minutes. Four
catering outlets and picnic spots. Two shops.
Things To Do,
See and Photograph:
Free guided walking tours start at 11am and
2pm from Victoria Gate Plaza.
What to take:
Macro, tripod, polarizer, reflector, sun hat
and sun cream, something warm for colder months.
Woodlands, Bluebells, Buildings and Follies,
carpets of daffodils, wildlife, lake and many different gardens. Different
things at the different seasons of the year.
Royal Botanic Gardens
0208 332 5000 (main switchboard - office hours
0208 332 5655 (24 hour information line)
Open every day at 9.30am, except 24th and 25th
Closes 27 Mar-29 Aug 6.30pm weekdays and
Closes 30 Aug-29 Oct 6pm; 30 Oct-4 Feb 4.15pm;
5 Feb-24 Mar 5.30pm
Glasshouses and Galleries: 9.30am-5.30pm
Xstrata Treetop Walkway: 9.30am-5.30pm
weekdays and closes 6.30pm weekends
Climbers & Creepers: 27 Mar-29 Oct
30 Oct-4 Feb 10.30am-3.45pm, 5 Feb-24 Mar 10.30am-5pm
Kew Palace: 2 Apr-25 Sep 10am-4.15pm
Adults: £13.90; Concessions: £11.90; Children
(under 17) FREE
Permission required for use of tripods in the
glass houses. Permission is required for commercial
photography/painting/filming/recording anywhere in the gardens.
bicycles/tricycles, roller skates, heelies, skateboards, scooters;
vehicles other than powered wheelchairs;
radios/cassette players; musical instruments.
ball games/sports (including jogging);
tree-climbing; or pruning or touching plants.
Children under 17 must be supervised by an adult at all times
Special Needs Access:
Limited parking available. Electric
wheelchairs are allowed into the gardens on footpaths. The footpaths and
majority of buildings are suitable for wheelchair uses, however there is no
wheelchair access to the aerial walkways in the Palm House and Temperate
House, or the marine display in the Palm House basement. Carers of
wheelchair users get FREE entry.
Special Needs Facilities:
Wheelchairs can be borrowed free of charge and
available at all main gates. Large print map. 3 mobility scooters free of
charge (need to be booked in advance). Number of disabled toilets within
easy reach of main attractions and gates.
Climbers & Creepers indoor play zone for 3-9 year olds. Underground tunnels of a Badger Sett and Stage Beetle Loggery.
Treehouse Towers. Aquatic displays. Baby changing facilities in ladies toilets, most catering
areas and in Climbers & Creepers.
No dogs allowed except guide dogs.
Please let us know any other information that we
can add to the Further information and Planning Grids or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always
wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be
correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of
course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have
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then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you
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