Kew Gardens contains the largest collection of plants in the world – around seven million specimens – with tropical and sub-tropical plants displayed in magnificent Victorian glasshouses.
Explore a contrast of formal gardens, terraces and lawns laid out around tall and mature trees. Whatever the season you’ll find a profusion of blooms.
Look out for delicate exotics as well as commonplace flowers and shrubs in gardens that feature the exuberant plantings and traditional borders of a mature English country garden. Stroll around wilder areas including the nuttery, woodland and meadows.
The original gardens were created for Augusta, Princess of Wales, around her home, Kew Palace. They were first laid out in 1759, then extended from 1840 onwards as a national botanic garden.
Famed landscape architect Capability Brown helped design the 121-hectare grounds, which now form a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important botanical research and education institution.
Kew is located on the River Thames near Richmond, Surrey, about 10km southwest of London.
Visit the Queen's Garden, a faithful copy of a 17th century garden with parterres, a sunken garden and pleached alleys. Then follow the 200m-long, 18m-high treetop walk to get a bird’s-eye view of more than 100 trees sourced from around the world, including English oak, Spanish fir, Italian maple and Chinese red birch. Discover what happens beneath the ground where trees grow from inside the rhizotron.
Other sites within the garden worth visiting include: Kew Palace, a British royal palace built around 1631; the 50m-high Great Pagoda, erected in 1762; Chokushi-Mon, a replica of the Karamon (Chinese gate) of Nishi Hongan-ji in Kyoto, built in 1910 and surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden; and Queen Charlotte's Cottage.
The garden is open all year round (except 24 and 25 December) from 9.30am to 6:30pm (7:30pm weekends) or dusk.
Using the London Underground, take the District Line train (destination Richmond) to Kew Gardens station, a five-minute walk from the Gardens. Mainline trains from Waterloo stop at Kew Bridge station, just 10 minutes walk from the gardens.
Kew was the site of the first successful attempt in the 19th century to breed rubber trees for cultivation outside South America.
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Latest update: Kew Gardens, London: 9 January, 2023