Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in London, bringing in an estimated 2 million visitors each year. The Royal Botanical Gardens Kew are set on 300 acres of visually stunning land that is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lush grounds are comprised of gardens, botanical glasshouses, an Herbarium and Seedbank, and various constructs including the smallest of all the Royal Palaces, Kew Palace. There are a number of conservatories, museums, and other buildings, all dedicated in one way or another to botanical research and conservation. Those who visit the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew often comment just how much there is to see at this historical site located between Kew and Richmond in southwest London. From the stunning Pagoda, to Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, to the Princess of Wales Conservatory, there are enough attractions and things to do at the Kew Gardens to keep you interested for a full day.

The history of Kew Gardens goes back to the second half of the eighteenth century when Lord Capel of Tewkesbury developed something of an exotic garden in then Kew Park. It was then expanded by the current Princess of Wales. Sir William Chambers built several constructs on the site at the behest of the Princess of Wales, one of them being the striking Chinese Pagoda that remains there today and is a popular attraction among tourists who visit the Gardens. King George III continued expansion of the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, but planning really got underway with the appointment of Francis Masson in 1771.

It was not until 1840 that Kew Gardens became a national botanical garden. At that time the Director, William Hooker, expanded the gardens to 75 acres and the arboretum to 270 acres. Around this time the history of Kew Gardens began to shift and a more focused effort led to a more concerted effort and dedications to the cause of not only preserving but also documenting the various species and plant life on the grounds.

Today Kew has one of the largest collections of plants in the whole world featuring over 7 million specimens. Kew Gardens works closely with other leading botanical organizations to produce standards for the industry. The library and archives are also one of the biggest collections of their kinds in the world, featuring some half a million items. The Royal Botanical Gardens Kew is not only a popular tourist attraction, but also an important site and resource used by professionals around the world in these relevant fields.

If you are planning to visit, take some time to learn about the history of Kew Gardens but then get on your way so that you can see as many of the attractions on the grounds as possible. Besides some of the above listed attractions, you should also see the Alpine House, the Nash Conservatory, the Treetop Walkway, and the Shirley Sherwood Gallery.

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