If you are a nature lover and are in London, then the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collection in the world awaits you at the Kew Gardens. Located in southwest London, the Kew Gardens is the city’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of London’s most popular tourist hotspots. This world of science dates back to 1840 and is home to more than 50,000 living plants. The herbarium, which is one of the world’s largest, has more than 8.5 million preserved fungal and plant specimens, while the living collection includes more than 27,000 taxa curated by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The Gardens have a scientific research centre of international renown, a library with more than 750,000 volumes and more than 175,000 prints and plant drawings. Explore the beauty of glasshouses and exotic rainforests at the iconic Palm House, while the Princess of Wales Conservatory brings together ten of the world’s climatic zones. Stop at the Treetop Walkway, which soars to 59 feet above the ground and offers a stunning bird’s eye view of the Gardens. Take a stroll as you witness more than 60,000 plants at the Great Broad Walk Borders and explore the various zones of the enchanting gardens.
Among the newly designed attractions in Kew Gardens is the Agius Evolution Garden, where science comes together with horticulture. Discover the secrets of the plant kingdom as you learn about the unique DNAs of plants and the recently-discovered connections between various species. The mesmerising horticultural displays of the attraction narrate the tales of the evolution of plants. The technological advancements has allowed the scientists of Kew Gardens to contribute to enhance botanical knowledge. Take out your time and learn informative bits that might someday become the key to new medicines or climate-resilient cities.
Sprawling over two-thirds of Kew Gardens is the Arboretum, which means “a place with trees”. 14,000 trees belonging to more than 2,000 species stand tall in this leafy enclave where visitors are welcome to walk, explore, and discover. Several trees are as old as the Kew Gardens itself, while many others cannot be spotted anywhere else in Britain. Witness the heritage trees, giant redwoods, mighty oaks and a world-class nursery as you explore this scientific treasure trove. The Arboretum also conserves and protects plant species and their habitats from destruction.
Witness one of the largest collections of bamboo in the UK at Bamboo Garden, which is home to 130 species of Bamboos from China, Japan, the Himalayas and even the Americas. Bamboos are the world’s fastest growing woody plants and create dense landscapes around them. The garden has the species arranged by appearance so that their various forms and leaf shapes are fully on display for visitors. Another unique place to see in Kew Gardens is the Minka House, an unsung Japanese architectural gem that dates back to the mid-twentieth century.
Meet the fascinating flesh-eaters of the plant kingdom as they reside in various dedicated zones inside Kew Gardens, from the Princess of Wales Conservatory to the Rock Garden and Alpine House. The ‘beautiful murderers’ come from all parts of the world, from Australia to Brazil and even nearby Dorset. Some of the popular carnivores include the Venus flytrap and the Pitcher plant, which have adapted to the lack of nutrients in their soils by trapping prey with their special features.
One of the popular attractions in Kew Gardens is the Children’s Garden, which has been specially designed for children aged two to twelve years. Let your little one run wild amidst the natural settings spread across the land size of 40 tennis courts as they explore the garden having more than 100 trees. Special attractions include the Earth Garden, Air Garden, Sun Garden, and Water Garden where children can learn about the elements that make the existence of the beautiful plants possible.
The Davies Alpine House, one of the attractions in Kew Gardens, recreates the high-altitude territory and cool, dry, and windy conditions in which alpine plants can flourish. The 21st-century glasshouse combines traditional practices with modern technology to help the cold-acclimated plants grow. Flowers are cultivated and nurtured in the Alpine Nursery and displayed for visitors when they bloom fully. Davies Alpine House is home to a vast range of bold pink dianthus, bright purple campanulas, fragrant lavenders, tulips, verbascums, thymes, small ferns, and numerous unique species.
One of the unique places to see in Kew Gardens is the Grass Garden, where more than 550 species of grasses are cultivated. Witness the beautiful variety of grasses, which are approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s vegetation cover and include quite a few of the world’s most economically important flora. From cereals to alcoholic drinks, grasses are used to construct physical structures and also as renewable sources of energy. The Grass Garden is home to a variety of grasses including the Korean feather reed grass Calamagrostis brachytricha to feathery Hordeum hystri.
Among the most stunning attractions in Kew Gardens is the Great Broad Walk Borders, which are believed to be the longest herbaceous borders in the UK. The Borders, a mesmerising walkway into the heart of Kew, stretch to more than 320 metres and are arranged in themes across eight vast circular beds. The fresh fragrances and riot of colours of the flower beds and grasses also showcase a vast variety of plant families which can be planted even in home gardens.
The Japanese Landscape is one of the tranquil attractions in Kew Gardens, which combines a Garden of Peace, a Garden of Activity, and a Garden of Harmony. The skilfully manicured garden complements the Japanese Gateway, which is a hidden architectural masterpiece of Kew Gardens. The Garden of Peace is reminiscent of a traditional Japanese tea garden, while the Garden of Activity has a slope that symbolises natural elements and movements. The Garden of Harmony brings the two landscapes together and has stones and rock outcrops interplanted by shrubs.
One of the places to see in Kew Gardens is the Lake, spread over five acres of water and has four stunning islands. The Lake, which dates back to the nineteenth century, gets its water supply from the Thames River and is dotted with numerous tree species and wildlife. The Lake Crossing is a more recent addition and provides access to the less-visited places to see in Kew Gardens. The curving black granite walkway imitates the Lake’s banks and the walls create an illusion of boundaries that disappear when viewed sideways.
Witness the glory of the natural Mediterranean habitat at the Mediterranean Garden, one of the popular places to see in Kew Gardens. The aim of this garden is to highlight the economic purposes of Mediterranean plant species and the diversity of life that the Mediterranean habitat supports. It also focuses on spreading awareness about the conservation efforts required to ensure the habitat’s survival. Don’t forget to visit King William’s Temple which stands in the centre of the garden.
Among the adventurous attractions in Kew Gardens is the Natural Area, a 37-acre classic woodland region. Donated by Queen Victoria on the condition that the region retains its wild, untamed state, the Natural Area promises both forest adventures and serene nature walks. The Woodland Walk is a raised trail that takes you through the area as you explore adventures like the giant picnic table, bug hotel, log trail, and spot endangered stag beetles. Witness more than 185 trees and plant species like lilies, snowdrops, primroses and narcissi.
The rainforest comes alive at Palm House, one of the must-visit attractions in Kew Gardens. The air is thick and murky with dense vegetation, and many of the species in this indoor rainforest are endangered and even extinct in the wild. Witness the world’s oldest pot plant and the disease-fighting periwinkle, as they co-exist with economically important species like rubber, African oil, and cocoa. The Palm House is not a mere garden, but also a living laboratory where scientists research medicine and sustainable cropping.
Walk down from tropics to deserts as you explore one of the most fascinating places to see in Kew Gardens, the Princess of Wales Conservatory. The winding glassy labyrinth has ten computer-controlled climate zones which house a variety of ecosystems. Discover predatory plants in the carnivorous section, and witness cacti and succulents of the dry tropics and orchids and bromeliads of the steamy tropics. Experience history being written as you come close to a buried time capsule that will open in 2085.
A historical attraction in Kew Gardens, Queen’s Garden complements the nineteenth-century garden with its seventeenth-century aesthetics. Witness the bewitching beauty of seventeenth-century architectural styles as you explore the numerous species of this zone. The plants here were mostly grown before or in the seventeenth century, thus providing you with a glimpse into the long-forgotten past. The Queen’s Garden also houses some of the oldest stone structures of Kew Gardens, including an imitation of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio.
One of the hidden attractions in Kew Gardens, the Rhododendron Dell houses vibrant rhododendrons brought in from the Asian Himalayan mountains. Sir Joseph Hooker during his travels to the Himalayas in the mid-nineteenth century found the cliffs blooming with ten kinds of colourful rhododendrons and brought several new specimens with him. In present times, numerous species of the flowers bloom in Rhododendron Dell, several of which are unique hybrids that are not found anywhere else in the world.
One of the world’s oldest and largest gardens in the world, the Rock Garden is among the most popular attractions of Kew Gardens. The floral species come from the world’s six mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, North America, Patagonia, the Mediterranean and South Africa, and Oceania. The Garden has naturalistic displays that transport visitors to the rugged mountains, while the planting combinations bring alive communities seen in nature. The terrain is also the largest outdoor area dedicated to horticulture and is an important research resource.
The most enchanting attraction in Kew Gardens is the Rose Garden. With more than 170 unique species and cultivars of rose on display for visitors, the design of the garden dates back to 1848. The first roses were planted here in the 1920s, and the garden has grown exponentially since then. Spot the Rosa ‘Trumpeter’, Rosa ‘Lady of Shalott’, Rosa ‘Princess Anne’, Rosa ‘Port Sunlight’ and the mixed shrub roses, among other stunning species that bloom here.
Among the most precious attractions in Kew Gardens are the royal Kew Palace and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage. The seventeenth-century Kew Palace stands as the oldest structure of the Gardens and has served as the summer residence of King George III and his family in the eighteenth century. Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, which belonged to the wife of King George III, stands on the opposite end of the Gardens within one of London’s oldest and finest bluebell woods. The structures now belong to Kew and are in the trust of Historic Royal Palaces.
Witness the bewitching views of the Kew Gardens from the highest point within the vast botanical hub, the Treetop Walkway. Standing at a height of 18 metres above ground, the tree-lined walkway offers never-seen-before glimpses into the various ecosystems of the Gardens. Meet the birds and other wild residents of the garden and explore the ground-level tree-carved sculptures that showcase microscopic elements of the plants and tell you how they grow.
Witness the natural wonder of Kew Gardens, the giant Amazon water lily Victoria Amazonica, at the Waterlily House. Constructed in 1852, the small square-shaped glasshouse was designed specially to house the unique water lily species. The glasshouse has a circular pond containing fishes and is spanned over ten metres that is dyed black to stop algae growth. Apart from the Victoria amazonica, several treasured species, like the Victoria cruziana, can be found in the glasshouse. There is also a collection of gourds that trail the ceiling of the glasshouse.
The Kew Gardens is located at Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE. Kew Garden, formally known as Royal Botanic Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site which is located in Southwest London.
As London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kew Gardens boasts of being the world’s largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collection. The epitome of the beauty of the plant kingdom, Kew Gardens dates back to 1840 and has more than 50,000 living plants in its collection. It also has one of the world’s largest herbariums with millions of fungal and plant specimens and a library with more than 750,000 volumes. From deserts and mountains to ponds and tropics, explore the world’s most diverse ecosystems and their native plants at this unique sanctuary for plants.
If you are planning a visit to Kew Gardens, then the best time to explore is in the early morning hours. You would encounter fewer crowds and will get ample time to explore all the attractions on the premises. Summer and Spring are the best times of year to visit the Kew garden.
Kew Gardens tickets can always be purchased at the walk-in ticket counters. However, it is highly recommended that you book your tickets in advance online. You will get the best value tickets online, and will also be able to book time slots as per your preference in advance.
Visitors of all age groups are welcome at Kew Gardens. All those aged under sixteen need to be accompanied by adults at all times when inside the garden.
Yes, there are restaurants and shops in Kew Gardens where you can enjoy Thai delicacies and buy various cosmetic and beauty products.