Beautiful in all seasons, and plenty of activities for all age’s, you will need more than a day’s visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, better known as Kew Gardens.
- Smell the rose garden aroma at sunset on a two-wheel during the evening bike tours at Kew gardens. An extremely unique experience.
- View the colourful and beautiful orchids display at the Princess of Wales Conservatory during the annual orchid festival in Kew Gardens.
- Dance or sit and enjoy music presented by iconic musicians at Kew music nights. You might be lucky to see your favourite band/musician perform at Kew gardens.
What to See and Do
Beautiful on the inside and outside, a large population considers Palm House to be the most iconic Victorian iron and glass structure in the universe. The glasshouse plays host to tropical plants and palms from Asia, Africa, Australasia, the Americas, and the Pacific islands.
The temperatures inside the glasshouse are not an aspect to gamble about. It’s sweltering in there. Consider shedding off those layers of clothes before entering the glasshouse.
Despite plants and trees, Palm house also plays host to an underground marine aquarium. The marine aquarium is home to four significant marine habitats. Also, there is a 30 feet tall walkway across the centre portion of the palm glasshouse, which presents an opportunity for visitors to get a closer look at the trees in the greenhouse.
The treetop walkway is a favourite amongst many who visit the Kew Gardens. It is a 60 feet high pathway leading you to the top of the forest. It could prove a little scary if you consider yourself a bit afraid of heights. But, climbing and reaching the top will present the opportunity of a lifetime. You will be able to reach out and touch the tops of the trees, and also experience a magnificent view of the park from above.
The walkway is made of perforated metal floor, which is flexible and tends to pop beneath your feet. Let it not come as a surprise.
The Hive is a glittering swirl of metal raised above the surrounding greenery. It is set off the main boulevard leading from the Kew Palace to the Palm House. The Hive is a magnificent honeycomb sculpture which speaks more than art in its entirety.
It is built in a manner to represent a beehive and replicates the actual movement and sound of beehives. It is designed in a way that it picks up bees’ movement vibrations and transmits them to the Hive. The waves and movements are then turned into light and sound.
Once inside the Hive, you will treat your ears to a low hum made up of sounds from many distinct instruments. You will notice hundreds of little lights flashing on and off aligned to bees’ movements like in a real-life beehive. Enjoy the sight at dusk for the best experience. If you are looking for a perfect sensory experience for kids, this is the best place to be.
Queen Charlotte’s Cottage
You will find Queen Charlotte’s Cottage in a far corner of Kew gardens built past a thick concentration of rhododendrons and giant pines. Bluebell woods surround the Cottage. This is a true definition of beauty, enchanting, and not palatial.
This thatched Cottage was built mainly for the royal family to have tea breaks or light meals as they walked through or explored the garden and also while visiting nearby menageries. The menagerie bore black swans, kangaroos, and the now-extinct Quoggas.
The Cottage is rich with Queen Charlotte’s Hogarth prints collection which are 17th-century satirical pictures. The Cottage is open on weekends.
Did you know: (4 interesting facts!)
- Railway tunnels remain to lie underneath the Palm House. The tunnels were used for fuel transportation, which was used for heating the glasshouse.
- Queen Victoria donated the Queen Charlotte’s Cottage in 1898, but the gift had a special request: the landscape would be left in an uncultivated state. Therefore, the land now forms a natural area that boasts a sea of bluebells in spring and wild woodland.
- Kew gardens old rules dictated that there would be no prams, no smoking, no food, decent attire, no refreshments, and no playing for visitors to the garden.
- Kew’s 2nd Director, Sir Joseph Hooker, refused to have a restaurant established at Kew. The first Tea Pavilion was opened in 1888 after his retirement.
- 1759: A nine-acre botanic garden was founded by the mother of King George III, Princess Augusta.
- 1762: The Great Pagoda was built by William Chambers.
- 1772: Francis Masson collects thousands of plants from South Africa to plant in Kew.
- 1773: Rhododendron Dell was created by Capability Brown and called it The Hollow walk.
- 1802: King George III unites Richmond and Kew estates.
- 1840: Sir William Hooker is appointed director, Kew is transferred to the government and is opened to the public.
- 1848: Construction of the Palm House is completed.
- 1853: The Herbarium is built. Today it holds over seven million species.
- 1863: Temperate house is opened.
- 1882: The Marianne North Gallery opens. Its construction was completed in 1899.
- 1896: For the first time, women are employed as Kew gardeners.
- 1913: Glasshouse is attacked and Kew’s team pavilion is burnt down by Suffragettes.
- 1939: In support of the war effort, medicinal plants and vegetables are grown at Kew Gardens.
- 1987: The opening of The Princess of Wales Conservatory.
- 2007: Millennium Seed Bank records the billionth seed banking.
- 2008: The Shirley Sherwood Gallery and The Treetop Walkway opens.
- 2016: The Hive opens, The Great Broadwalk Border is completed. The same year, Kew published its 1st World’s plant report.
- 2018: Temperate house is reopened, as well as the Great Pagoda.
Facilities and Accessibility
There are a variety of cafes and restaurants in Kew Gardens where you can enjoy your favorite drink/meal or explore a new one. Enjoy a cake or coffee at Victoria Gate café or grab some grilled food and dine with views of the Pagoda and Temperate House at the Pavilion Bar and Grill.
After your refreshment, you can also visit the Kew shop for homeware and gardening gifts.
The pathways have been constructed to accommodate wheelchair users.