London is a hectic city with a lot of traffic, busy roads and high buildings. Fortunately, you can escape the crowds and find peace in one of London’s many parks and public gardens. Earlier I wrote about Kensington Gardens where you can also find Hyde Park. And we visited Richmond Deer Park, a large nature reserve on the hill of Richmond Upon Thames. Most parks in London are accessible free of charge, for some of them you have to pay. For example for the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, which we visited on a Sunday afternoon together with friends from the Netherlands.
Kew Gardens, is located between Richmond Upon Thames and Kew, southwest of the city of London. The official name is: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and is centuries old. History tells us that the garden was a garden complex, created by Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the widow of Frederick, Prince of Wales. Architect Sir William Chambers commissioned several elements in the garden, including a Pagoda which you can still admire in the garden nowadays. Queen Victoria donated the garden to the people in 1841, which meant that this beautiful green oasis in London was made accessible to the public.
Except that Kew Gardens has become an attraction for the public, it’s also a scientific institution in the field of plant systems. A global resource for knowledge of plants and fungi. The institute has a unique combination of extensive collections, databases, scientific expertise and global partnerships. In the library of Kew Gardens, the Herbarium, you will find famous publications, including the botanical magazine Kew Bulletin and the botanical garden is responsible for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, a magazine that has existed since 1787 and is the longest running botanical magazine with color illustrations.
With a size of more than 120 ha, Kew Gardens is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. In 2003, Kew Gardens was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The garden is a special place to wander through a beautiful landscape of the world’s most varied collection of living plants and flowers.
In addition to admire all the flora, you can also find impressive architectural and historical buildings in the park. Such as beautiful greenhouses, including the Palm House, an iconic Victorian greenhouse that supports the rainforest climate inside with a unique collection of tropical plants from some of the most endangered environments on earth. The walkway in the ridge of the building, which you can enter by a spiral staircase, offers a great view from above between the meter-high plants. Very impressive.
Another beautiful building is the Princess of Wales Conservatory where you can explore plants from ten different climatic zones. Such as cacti, carnivorous plants, orchids and the remarkable Titan Arum, which produces one of the largest flower structures and most unpleasant odors in the world of plants.
Kew Gardens is a perfect place for kids where they can discover the enormous wonders of nature. Currently the park is developing an exciting new garden, especially for children from 2 to 12 years old. The Children’s Garden will be an innovative new play experience, in a natural setting. The garden will also be a unique and inspiring area where children can learn about the importance of plants and the value of nature and the environment.
When you walk through the park in the open fields it might be, that you spot a big orange palace in the distance. That’s Kew Palace, the old summer house of King George III. One of the lesser-known royal residences in London and the oldest building in the gardens. Kew Palace was built in 1631 for a Flemish merchant Samuel Fortrey. About 100 years later it was rented by Queen Caroline and then bought by George III. He and his wife, Queen Charlotte, spent their summers in Kew Palace together with their 15 sons. After Queen Charlotte died in 1818, Kew Palace was closed. In 1898 it was bought by Kew and first opened to the public. Nowadays it is in the trust of historic royal palaces.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t take a look inside because of a renovation which will take part till the spring of 2018. Nevertheless, the palace with its backgarden is really beautiful to see and very soothing too. I love to walk around at places like this and to fantasize how the previous inhabitants would have lived here centuries ago. When the renovation is done, I will definitely come back to have a look at the inside of the house.
Kew Gardens is very versatile, there is a lot to see and discover and responds to all seasons. It will never be bored. In the dark winter months you can even get access to the light festival for an extra fee, the whole park will be beautifully illuminated in the evenings, a fairytale sight. In the spring and summer months the park is even more beautiful outside when everything is fully in bloom. Can you imagine how lovely it would be to have a walk through a sea of flowers with all those colors and smells. I’m looking forward to come back when it’s that far.
After we have eaten a pastry and drunk a cup of tea in one of the many lunch cafes it’s time to look up the exit, the park can close any time. We decide to continue our walk in the twilight zone of London. From Kew to Chiswick along the Thames is also highly recommended and easy to do.
If you are in London, then this park is definitely worth a visit. Please note that an entrance fee is requested. Plan your visit carefully and try to arrive on time so you can see as much as possible. For more information about Kew Gardens, opening hours and current programs, please visit their website.