Welcoming over a million visitors every single year, Kew Gardens in Richmond is one of the most popular and famous gardens in the world.
The history of Kew Gardens is extensive, and begins in the 16th century officially, although there are references dating back to it as far back as the 12th century.
In the 16th century Henry VII created a palace in Richmond and stayed there during the summer, which inevitably improved the area’s reputation. Richer families moved to the area and Kew village itself grew extensively in that century.
In the 18th century the Royals used Kew Palace as their summer residence and Princess Augusta and Prince Frederick were the family members who started gardens around the palace. At the time the garden was called ‘Physick Garden’ and was managed by William Aiton.
Following this period of time, the gardens experienced some 20 years due to general neglect and disinterest from the royal family. However, in 1841 interest was revived and the gardens went through a huge refurbishment and period of growth seeing the Victorian Glasshouses, Palm House, Herbarium and Temperate House being built.
As scientific research was a huge part of the gardens by this time, the gardens became more than just a place of interest and were considered extremely important in the horticultural world.
As the railways were built and the gardens flourished, public interest in the gardens grew and more and more visitors arrived. Between 1885 and 1945 the war brought disruption to the gardens, but the scientific studies continued.
Following the war, Kew relied heavily on gifts and grants and luckily, its significance was valued enough for that money to be gained, and expansion was able to continue.
In 2000 Wakehurst Place was purchased by Kew and became its Millennium Seed Bank which had collected and conserved seeds from 10% of wild flowering plant species on the planet. Its next goal is to have saved 25% by 2020.
Kew has continually taken a role in protecting and conserving habitats throughout the world, and takes an active role in conservation efforts. In 2003 Kew Gardens was given the UNESCO World Heritage Site categorisation and since then, the Kew landscape has continued to evolve.
Visiting Kew Gardens now, you can enjoy over 100 world class attractions. These include over 130 hectares of gardens, buildings and land, a stunning treetop walkway, tropical glasshouses, eateries, cafes, art galleries, giant lily pads, rainforest sections, the Princess Of Wales Conservatory and Georgian Houses.
There are also regularly interesting sculptures dotted around the gardens. There are events held regularly throughout the year at Kew including:
Christmas At Kew – This enchanted event includes an illuminated trail throughout the gardens and stunning Christmas lights causing the treetops to glow. The fountains are illuminated, there are Victorian Carousel rides, lots of festive treats and cosy drinks, and of course, you might just see Santa…
The Great Spice Heist – Enjoy a themed visit to the gardens during Summer where kids can enjoy making their own pirate hat and solving pirate themed puzzles around the gardens.
Exhibitions – There are always exhibitions on at the gardens throughout the year.
Guided Walks And Photography Events – There are guided walks available at the gardens at an additional cost. There are also photography walks and events at different times of the year if you fancy taking some incredible shots of the gardens amongst fellow enthusiasts.
Kew Gardens are open throughout the year, from 10am-6.30pm Monday to Friday in Spring and Summer, (open until 7.30pm weekends), 10am-6pm September and October, and 10am-4.15pm from October to February.
Check the website for specific dates and opening times before planning a visit.
*Header Image Source: David Stanley: Flicker