The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew covers 132 acres on the river Thames in London. The grounds once belonged to the Royal family but in 1840 it was handed over to the state. Today it houses 1 in 8 of all flowering plant species in the world as well as endangered and the Millennium seed bank.
The Herbarium contains 7 million dried plant specimens.
Kew has one of the extensive botanical libraries in the world containing over 120,000 books, journals and papers.
The Jodrell Laboratory researches plant structure, biochemistry and molecular characteristics.
The Palm house is Victorian in construction and was built between 1844 and 1848 and is a Grade I listed building. The Palm house contains rainforest palms, trees and climbers from Africa, Asia, Australia and America.
The Temperate house was constructed in 1859 and house sub tropical plants such as camellias, rhododendrons, and jojoba and citrus trees.
The Princess of Wales conservatory commemorates Princess Augusta, the mother of George III who founded the gardens at Kew in 1759. The Conservatory was officially opened by the late Diana, Princess of Wales in 1987. Within the conservatory there are 10 different environmental zones including wet and dry tropics. Heating, misting and lighting are adjusted by computer to achieve the best possible growing environment and cost efficiency. One of the most popular attractions is the giant waterlily, with its leaves reaching 2 meters in diameter. Carnivorous plants, ferns and orchids are also housed in the conservatory.
There have been alpines at Kew since 1887. The first house was enlarged in 1891 and again in 1938. The Davies Alpine House, with cutting edge technology is the latest addition at Kew to house their collection of Alpine plants.
By the middle of the 18th century it had become fashionable to have decorative buildings or follies on their land. The Pagoda completed in 1762 is a 10 storey octagonal structure reaching 50 meters of Chinese design.
The Japanese Gateway is a replica of Karamon of Nishi Hongon-ji in Kyoto. The building is situated amongst 3 garden areas, Garden of Peace, Garden of Activity and Garden of Harmony. These gardens contain water, gravel and rocks as well as a range of plants of Japanese origin.
The Sackler Crossing was opened in 2006 and an elegant crossing over the lake.
Visitors enter the Rhizotron through a crack in the ground explores tree roots. The Xstrata treetop walkway explores allows visitors to wander through the canopy of trees.
The Marianne North Gallery was opened in 1882 exhibiting Miss North’s paintings of plants from her travels.
The Shirley Sherwood Gallery was opened in 2008 and is dedicated to botanical art.
The Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place was opened in November 2000 by HRH Prince Charles. The seed bank is the largest conservation initiative, aiming to store rare and threatened seeds from a quarter of the world’s flora in specialist conditions. The seed bank was built to last 500 years and is set in 200 hectares of gardens.