Royal Kew Gardens

The Royal Kew Botanical Gardens is a huge complex of open-air botanical gardens and greenhouses in southwestern London between Richmond and Kew.

More than 50 thousand different types of plants grow in the whole complex of greenhouses and botanical gardens, located on a vast territory of 132 hectares.

The gardens are also famous for their interesting architectural structures and attractions.

The Royal Botanic Gardens has a 200-year history, during which hundreds of designers and gardeners tried to bring this miracle of decorative gardening to perfection.

This story begins in 1731 with landscaping two castles, one of which belonged to King George II and Queen Caroline, the other to their son - Prince Frederick of Wales and his wife Augusta.

Federic and Augusta added a lot of “curious trees and exotic plants” to their Kew garden, turning it into a favorite family vacation spot. Unfortunately, the prince died young, having caught a cold from a sudden hurricane with a shower that caught him at his favorite garden work.

Princess Augusta continued the family business, laying in 1759 a new garden and arboretum, where medicinal and exotic plants were collected on an area of 3.6 hectares. The main gardener was William Ayton.

By landscape design the architect Sir William Chambers created a classic flower garden with lawns and beautiful garden structures: a greenhouse, the temple of Arethusa, the temple of Bellona, the ruined arch, the Chinese pagoda.

These works were appreciated, and in 1767 the Kew Garden received the status of the Royal Botanical.

The neighboring royal residence of Richmond Lodge, owned by Federic's parents, was equipped by the landscape designer Capabiliti Brown.

In 1771, the son of Princess Augusta George III combined the territory of two clan estates into a single garden.

In 1773, the garden acquired a new leader, it became the famous botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who maintains friendly relations with King George III. Thanks to his efforts, the garden became a scientific center, strange and medicinal plants were delivered from all over the world. In just 1773 alone, nearly 800 species of trees were added.

In 1836, one of the four stone John Nash greenhouses was transferred from Buckingham Palace to the garden.

In 1840, after some oblivion, these initiatives were continued by the famous specialist William Hooker, reviving the former beauty of Kew and supplementing it with the construction of his own library.

Since 1855, the Royal Botanic Gardens have provided London with trees to ennoble the surroundings. Residents are especially grateful to the garden for saving them from the epidemic of malaria by the bark of hina trees brought from the slopes of the South American Andes.

In the 1870s, the first Hevea seedlings were sent from the Kew greenhouses to the Far East to equip rubber plantations.

In 1897, Queen Victoria donated the grounds of Queen Charlotte's Castle as an arboretum to British trees and bells.

Gradually, gardens and tea houses were added to the greenhouses, and with the beginning of the 20th century, the gardens were supplemented with the best heating systems and irrigation machines at that time. The progressive technical improvement of the botanical gardens continues to this day.

A walk through the garden starts from the central gate with a magnificent wrought-iron grille with gilded ornaments, designed in the early Jacobin style by architect Decimus Burton. The gates were installed in 1848, after the garden was transferred to the ownership of the state.

A wide alley begins at the gate, framed by flowerbeds with seasonal flowers and trees with information signs, including relics from the arboretum of Princess Augusta.

The greenhouse on the right was built by John Nash. This is the oldest Kew Conservatory, which now houses an information center.

At the beginning of the Magnolia Alley is the old neoclassical William Chambers conservatory, with a Roman sarcophagus and sculptures inside.

Not far from the greenhouse, a sundial of the famous master Tompion with detailed instructions for use is installed. Previously, the royal residence of the White House, which was demolished in 1802, stood on this site.

Further north is Kew Palace - the smallest of the British royal residences, measuring only 21 by 15 meters.

The house was built in 1631 by Dutch merchant Sam Fortry in the Dutch style: with fancy Flemish masonry of red brick in three floors and curly gables.

In 1728, he was rented by Queen Carolina for 100 pounds and a fat deer as a kindergarten for her many children. Later, Princess Augusta lived here, who arranged her own botanical garden, thereby initiating Kew Gardens.

This is the only surviving of the three royal palaces, here the halls are furnished exactly as it was 200 years ago.

On the north side of the palace lies the Queen's Garden, furnished in a classical style. On the west side there is a buried garden with broken brick paths, avenues of golden rain and a beautiful well from Belstrod Park.

At the end of summer, the garden is fragrant with medicinal and aromatic plants. Previously, they were dried and stuffed with sachets or simply placed in vases in the house. Preserved ancient herbalists with recipes for use in food and treatment.

From the palace to the north side of the garden stretched a geometric parterre with busts on columns. On the serpentine embankment near the wall of the garden, visitors climb to the observation deck with a wonderful view of the Thames.

From here you can go down to the "Bee Garden", where scientists literally "train" bees for better pollination of plants difficult to grow. Nearby are waterfalls, a water garden, Banks' house and the Rhododendron Valley.

Joseph Banks was a passionate collector of exotic healthy plants from around the world, not without reason his name was given to a whole family of Australian plants. Gathering his collection, he even ventured out on several trips across the Pacific Ocean with the famous captain James Cook.

The botanist Joseph Hooker, who continued the work of his father, William Hooker, to develop the Royal Gardens, was an equally committed professional. He brought 43 new types of rhododendrons from Nepal, creating from them the amazingly beautiful "Valley of Rhododendrons". Contrary to general beliefs, rhododendrons blooms in mid-winter.

Walking southwest, tourists admire the Bamboo Garden. Bamboo leaves and trunks are graceful and attractive at any time of the year.

In 2001, at the botanical festival in the Japanese city of Okazaki, Kew garden representatives liked the old Mink wooden house built in 1900 so much that they decided to decorate the landscape of the royal garden. The house was purchased and moved in parts to a new place of honor in the central part of the park among the bamboo thickets, complementing the oriental aesthetics of the Japanese pagoda.

Near the Bamboo Garden there is a lake with benches for visitors, where you can relax, listen to the birds singing and watch them. The lake was favored by black swans, motley mandarin ducks, red-headed dives and semi-handed black-necked Canadian geese.

Behind the lake, Queen Charlotte’s House is located south of the lake, a wedding gift from George III to his wife Sophia, where the royal picnics were held. The house is located in the rare plant protection zone and opens only in summer. Sofia knew botany well and took an active part in the development of gardens. By the way, it was she who gave the world a recipe for her signature charlotte pie.

Equally exciting will be a walk through the Japanese garden, where you can see the magnificent Japanese gate of Hokushi Mon and an incredible curiosity - a real oriental pagoda.

The gate was erected for the Japanese-British exhibition in 1911, exquisitely decorated with cedar, decorated with carvings with stylized images of animals and flowers, and traditional copper on the roof was replaced with cedar bark.

The ancient Chinese pagoda, designed in 1762 by the architect William chambers, rises 10 octagonal floors-blocks and a Central staircase of 253 steps to a height of 49 meters. The diameter of the base of the pagoda is 15 meters, it is elegantly decorated with gilded wood, the roofs of the floors are covered with ceramic tiles and decorated with dragon statues.

Passing through the gate past a stone on which wise haiku verses are carved, visitors find themselves in a Japanese tea garden, with bonsai-style dwarf trees, stone paths and lanterns, with the sounds of drops falling into a pond from bamboo tubes. The dominant theme of water is represented by aligned gravel, and massive boulders symbolize mountains.

Further at the end of the lawn of the Japanese garden are crowned with a regal figure from the world of animals “The Lion Gate”, a recently restored heather garden and a false arch ruin built of stone and old brick by the same William Chambers in 1759.

Behind the arch is a gallery with 832 paintings and drawings. At the end of the 19th century, artist-enthusiast Marianne North traveled alone in North and South America and Asia, trying to capture unusual plants, including especially rare ones, on canvas. Thanks to her work, grateful descendants can see how the extinct species looked or existing ones changed. In 2008, a second similar gallery named after Shirley Sherwood appeared in the gardens.

From here, passing through a maple grove, not far from the "House of temperate climate". This is the largest and most elegant greenhouse in the world, where the presented plants from all over the world are divided by geographical affiliation. Some rare species here are carefully grown and returned to their natural habitat, saving them from complete extinction. For example, there is a 150-year-old Chilean wine palm 17 meters high and a unique Canarian dragon tree with a bright red resin called dragon blood, which eminent Italian violin masters added to their famous varnishes.

Visitors usually pass through the western doors of the greenhouse to the "Greenhouse of Evolution". This is a more modern construction made of glass and aluminum, built in 1952. Here is the history of geological eras, from gurgling mud with bacteria to the appearance of the first flowering plants.

Near the hill is a small King William Temple, built in 1837 by architect and garden designer Jeffrey Wyatville on the order of Queen Victoria in memory of his uncle Wilhelm IV. On the walls of the temple there are fortified tablets perpetuating the famous victories of the British army from 1760 to 1815, not without reason it was previously called the "Temple of Military Glory." In front of the temple is the Mediterranean Garden, which was established here in 2007.

Further north is the charming Bellona Temple, built by Chambers in 1760. In the spring, crocuses bloom with might and main on the surrounding lawn, and decorative barberries are pleasing to the eye in the nearby hollow.

From the temple to the north leads the Cherry Alley, fragrant with newly planted flowering Japanese cherries. It ends at the giant greenhouse.

The orangery "Palm House" is the main attraction of the Kew gardens. In shape resembling an inverted ship, it impresses with its gigantic dimensions: length 110, width 31, height 18 meters. This engineering miracle of the Victorian era, created jointly by the architect Decimus Burton and engineer Richard Turner from 1844-1848, was the first major building that used forged steel. Initially, the elegant design provided for green glass, but they had to be replaced with ordinary ones, when it became clear that the plants lacked sunlight.

The room maintains a characteristic tropical humid climate. The collection collected under the roof includes 70% of the known types of palm trees, camellias, orchids, coconuts, bananas, figs, cocoa, papaya, coffee, rubber, cinnamon and other exotic plants. A valuable saga breadfruit grows here, similar to a hybrid of fern with pineapple, and a giant bamboo that grows per meter per week.

In the basement of the house there is a marine exhibition where you can see coral fish, mangroves and algae of the British seas.

Designer William Nesfield was responsible for the design of the landscape surrounding the greenhouse with an excellent view of the Thames, its decorative flower beds and the excellent design of the three avenues departing from it.

Not far from the Palm House is a pond with swamp cypresses, a fountain and a sculpture depicting Hercules and the river god Aheloy, which was favored by local herons, and another small greenhouse.

The orangery "Water Lily House", built in 1852, sheltered aquatic plants in its hot and humid climate. In the middle of the building is a large pond with a variety of water lilies. The leaves of one of the species (a giant Amazonian lily named after Queen Victoria) reach 2 meters in diameter and are capable of holding weight up to 45 kg, and the shade of its flowers changes from white to pink during the day. Papyrus, lotus, rice, bananas, cassava, sugarcane, lemon and other heat-loving plants also grow here.

Behind the pond to the left of the Cumberland Gate is the Forest Garden, where designers have preserved the natural beauty of nature. These are forest plants planted in a sunny area. But the garden is often quite bright, especially during the flowering period of white or pink trillium or North American forest lilies. Here you can admire the Himalayan blue poppy and various hellebores.

To the right of the gate behind the beds is a laboratory block where research work is constantly ongoing. For example, here it was discovered that rose hips are a valuable source of vitamin C. Children collected wild rose hips to help the country and the army during World War II.

In the northeast, behind the laboratory block, there is a water garden, where since 1909 a wonderful collection of water lilies and rare marsh plants has been going.

And in the east of Kew Gardens, the huge arched construction of the Alpine House greenhouse impressively rises, where they carefully take care of alpine plants that are difficult to see in natural conditions due to the inaccessibility of mountain heights. The installed automatic blind control system maintains the much-needed coolness of the plants.

Of particular historical botanical interest is the "Herb Garden". Here you can see the first cereals developed by people thousands of years ago and subtropical herbs of more than 600 species. Despite its simple name, the garden impresses with the variety of leaf colors and panicles of seeds.

From the remaining stones from the destroyed White House, they made the foundation for the rockery, which was supplemented with cliffs of Sussex sandstone, a waterfall and streams, bordered by swamp nails and Veronica, as well as depressions from mossy bog plants. This is a cozy corner where there are always a lot of bees.

The Princess of Wales Orangery is the newest building in Kew (opened in 1987 by Princess Diana), with a modern automatic energy-saving control system that combines 10 climatic zones under the roof of the plant: from the desert to the tropics. There are excellent conditions for ferns, cacti, orchids, carnivorous plants and baobabs. Rare plants came here from hot countries, former colonies of old England.

From the greenhouse of the Princess of Wales, the path runs to the right to the Secluded Garden, where it is nice to relax near the unusual spiral fountain on comfortable wooden benches in the cool of pouring water and wander between various ferns in a small summer house.

There are two large rosaries in Kew Gardens, delighting rose lovers with a variety of varieties of these noble flowers. Especially the guests are attracted by the alley with several arches twined with roses.

In the center of Kew Park, there is a 200-meter-long suspended glass-covered openwork bridge, offering visitors an impressive walk along a kind of alley at a height of 15 meters. It presents an amazing opportunity for an excellent overview of the park's attractions from the bird's-eye view and admiring the life of squirrels and birds in the crowns of trees.

Another modern innovation of the Royal Botanic Gardens is the risotron, a gallery with LCD screens where you can learn more about tree life and root system development.

A curious attraction of Kew Gardens is the world's largest compost pile. Weeds, leaves, tops and branches of plants are collected here, manure is generously added from the stables of the Royal Horse Guards - and an excellent compost is obtained, which will leave the auction.

For children, a botanical platform was organized with an interesting exposition "Creepers and Creeping Plants."

And another amazing attraction of the garden is the field of fairy mushrooms, created by the English company Artfabs and directly by its artist and sculptor Tom Hare, who consulted professional mycologists to more accurately convey the unique features and properties of each type of mushroom. In honor of National Mushroom Day (October 13), an excursion was held here, where experts shared the secrets of mushroom picking and demonstrated the largest collection of dried mushrooms in the world, including samples collected by Charles Darwin himself.

The garden is famous for its 170-year-old sprawling chestnut oak tree with a height of more than 30 meters and a trunk diameter of about 2 meters. This is one of the oldest and largest specimens of this species in the world.

The library of the research center contains more than 750 thousand books, 175 thousand botanical illustrations, many geographical maps, photographs, letters, manuscripts, magazines.

The herbarium of the Research Garden Center totals over 7 million plant specimens, which covers 98% of all types of species known to science.

Visiting the Museum of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, you can learn about the sometimes indispensable for humans to use plants as medicines, clothes and food.

And in the "Wooden Museum" presents samples of wooden inlaid furniture. A separate room is dedicated to paper production technology.

Kew Gardens is visited annually by more than two million tourists from all over the world. Especially crowded in the gardens in the spring, when most of the plants begin to bloom. And in autumn, visitors are attracted by the fiery red leaves of Japanese maple plantings and bamboo thickets.

For a better overview and the convenience of visitors, special tourist trams run in the park.

An international photo contest is held here annually, as well as seasonal exhibitions and events: camellias and heathers in January; lawn with crocuses and rockeries in February; cherry blossoms and daffodils in March; magnolias and spring flowers in April; bells and azaleas in May; rhododendron grove and herb garden in June; giant water lilies, queen's garden and summer flower beds in July.

In July 2003, the Royal Botanic Gardens were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List due to its unique flora, architectural structures and historical importance./p>

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