The Royal Botanic Gardens consist of two main sites: the Kew Gardens and Wakehurst. The first site is home to 40 historically important buildings that span across 326 acres and Wakehurst is home to the Millennium Seed Bank and over 500 acres of the world’s plants.
Reportedly, the Kew Gardens has roughly 1.35 million public visitors every year, while the Wakehurst site has around 350,000.On top of being home to the largest and most diverse mycological and botanical collections in the world, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also an important education and botanical research institution.
Brief History of Kew Gardens
The Kew Gardens became open to the public in 1840 from the exotic garden at Kew Park. It is home to 27,000 taxa and to an herbarium that has over 8.5 million preserved fungal and plant specimens.The Kew site itself is believed to have formally started in 1759 and was formed by Henry, Lord Capell of Tewkesbury. As an interesting fact, Kew Gardens has its own police force which has been active since 1847 – the Kew Constabulary.
The Mansion of Wakehurst was built in 1590, by Sir Edward Culpeper. It was then bought by Dennis Lyddell, in 1694. The Herbarium was built in 1853 and today, after five extensions, it holds over seven million species. In 2003 the site was officially inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How to Get to Kew Gardens
Given that the Royal Botanic Gardens are fairly close to London’s other tourist attractions, you won’t have a hard time getting here. A drive from the British Museum to the Royal Botanic Gardens takes around 50 minutes. It takes around one and a half hours to get there from London City Airport. A short ride from Russel Square Station will also give you a view over Buckingham Palace as you travel to the gardens.
Things to Do when Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens
When visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens, you might not know where to start. You can choose between plant houses, ornamental buildings, the Kew Palace, and galleries and museums, it really depends on your interests and time constraints. Recommended highlights are to take time for some of the ornamental buildings of Royal Botanic Gardens, including the Temple of Bellona, Japanese Gateway, Temple of Aeolus, The Ruined Arch, and the Ice House.
Wakehurst site is home to the National Collections of Nothofagus, Betula, Hypericum, and Skimmia. After the Great Storm of 1987, Kew redesigned the gardens of Wakehurst to give its visitors the possibility to walk through the temperate woodlands that can be found across the world.Reportedly, much of the Wakehurst site can simply be explored – its gardens stretch across a valley, with a plethora of paths for you to take and places to discover.
Plan your visit to Kew Gardens
Whether you are a fan of nature and plants or not, you will definitely be amazed by the views offered by the Royal Botanic Gardens. You don’t even have to leave London to be able to see and explore flora from all over the world – from the Alpine Plant House to the Pagoda or Japanese Gateway.
Visit the Kew Gardens website to plan your visit. >