11 things you didn’t know about Kew Gardens
Located on the outskirts of central London, visitors from around the world head to Kew Gardens, housing the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”. Spread out over 300 acres, you’ll be able to roam through landscapes and experience ten climatic zones in one place, guaranteed to leave you feeling calm and collected. Find out more about the gardens with us and get ready to experience bliss away from London’s hectic streets.
All about Kew Gardens
The gardens are over 170 years old
Although the site has been open since 1759, with 3,400 plant species, Kew Gardens was founded in 1840. Currently, visitors can take in over 30,000 living plants and seven million specimen.
Royals have lived at the prestigious location
Nestled in the gardens sits Kew Palace, a luxurious home surrounded by greenery. While royals have lived across London, Kew Palace was the country home of King George III when living away from the public eye.
Kew is home to Britain’s smallest royal palace
Re-opened in 2006, Kew Palace is now the smallest British royal residency. An intimate, home, visitors can now try Georgian English cuisine as well as take a look into Queen Charlotte’s cottage and rooms when walking around the gardens.
The world’s oldest pot plant is at Kew
If you’re looking for a historical plant, there’s no place better than Kew Gardens. In fact, the world’s oldest pot plant can be found in the Palm House. Visitors can catch a glimpse of Encephalartos altensteinii, brought to Kew by plant-hunter Frances Masson after travelling on-board one of Captain Cook’s voyages to South Africa.
There’s one document that lists all the plant species
Named the Index Kewensis, the publication maintains an updated record of all described plant species from the 1770s to the present day. Registering all botanical names since 1885, seed plants have been indexed to preserve each plant type.
The police force are always there to help
Monitoring all action over 300 acres is no easy task. Established in the mid-1840s, the Kew Constabulary preside over all behaviour at the Gardens. Originally granted the same level of authority as the Metropolitan Police, the constabulary has over 15 members of staff and a vehicle, making it one of the smallest police forces in the world.
Plants have been stolen
Even with a dedicated police force at hand, trouble can occur. In 2014, a rare water lily named Nymphaea thermarum was stolen from the Princess of Wales Conservatory. As the world’s smallest water lily, the lily pads only grow to a maximum size of 1 centimetre, so it’s not easy to locate its whereabouts!
Seeds are kept in a dedicated bank
As well as plants blooming across the gardens, Kew is also home to the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Preserving the world’s plant species for the future, the Millennium Seed Bank protects species at risk of extinction, with a mission to conserve 25% of all plant species by 2020. In the future, seeds can be germinated and reintroduced to the wild or used in scientific research to cultivate growth.
It’s a world heritage site
In 2003, Kew Gardens was established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, legally protected by international law. Established to have scientific and historical significance in the development of British culture, it’s an unmissable botanical landmark to see in the capital.
Iconic artist Dale Chihuly will once again exhibit his luminous glass artworks in our spectacular landscape, featuring pieces never seen before in the UK.
See brand new artwork
If you’re visiting this summer, why not take a look at Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures that are housed around the gardens. As art, science and nature are married over four art installations, step into an outdoor, contemporary gallery where underwater creatures and plants are brought to life.
End your day with a visit to a quintessentially British pub
Although the gardens are located in the leafy suburbs of southwest London, Kew Gardens’ dedicated train station is the only tube stop to have its own pub attached. Named The Tap on the Line, visitors are able to enjoy a refreshing drink outside the Gardens.
Photo credit: RBG Kew and Mark Hadden