Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a botanical garden in west London. It was first created by Princess Augusta in 1759 and from the beginning its royal patronage meant that money was available for collecting plants from all over the world and for building greenhouses and features such as the pagoda.

George III spent a lot of time during his reign in Kew Gardens and during his reign the collection of plants grew. Not long after Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 the gardens were transferred from the Crown to the government and were opened to the public.

Today Kew Gardens is one of London’s major tourist attractions with two million visitors annually. The site is bounded in the north by the River Thames and is made up of alluvial soils. Within the gardens there are many different habitats showcasing different species of tree and plants.

Visiting Kew Gardens

It is always a delight to visit Kew Gardens what ever the time of year or day.  In winter, walk through the coniferous woodland and admire the American redwoods. Syon House is more clearly seen in the winter – sit on one of the memorial benches  along the Syon Outlook and gaze across the River Thames at the London home of the Dukes of Northumberland. In January and February the spring bulbs start to make an appearance – snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils.  Head for the woodland garden and the Temple of Aeoulus for the best display of spring bulbs. 

On a cold day take refuge in one of the greenhouses –  doesn’t miss the Temperate House and the Palm House.  The orchid festival in the Princess of Wales Conservatory (named after Princess Augusta) in early spring is always a treat. The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art is another treat particularly on a windy wet day. 

When the spring weather arrives, take a stroll though the rock garden to see spring bulbs and alpines – all low growing plants with delicate colourful flowers. In late spring enjoy the pleasures of the Camellia and the Rhododendrons Dell and be entranced by the cherry blossom at the Japanese Gateway. 

In the summer feast on the bedding displays at the Palm House Parterre and the herbaceous perennials along the Great Broad Walk Borders. The colours from favourites such as rudbeckias, heleniums, asters, salvias, hardy geraniums and phlox blend together to make a perfect picture. Other highlights include the Rose Garden and the Waterlily Pond. 

There are many reminders that the grounds were once the private gardens of a royal family.  Kew was home to George III, his wife Queen Charlotte and their many children.  Visit Kew Palace and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage to gain a glimpse  of domestic life in the eighteenth century.  In his later years, George III when he was suffering from bouts of mental illness was often kept  isolated in his Kew Palace.  

Kew Gardens has several events throughout the year.  Summer evenings can be spent cycling around the gardens or sitting listening to music.  A highlight of the Christmas period is the light installations.  Book the pantomime at Richmond theatre and then wander around the light trail with a glass of mulled wine for a special treat.