Kew Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Few attractions offer the variety and spectacle of Kew Gardens, 300 acres, four of them under glass, containing the largest collection of plant species in the world.
Originally two Royal estates, the properties were joined together in the time of George III, and under Sir Joseph Banks, the noted botanist and plant collector, the botanic garden became world famous. In 1840, it was handed to the state and gradually, mainly through donations from Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, Kew reached its present size.
Throughout its history, Kew has made important contributions to increasing the understanding of the plant kingdom. Today, it is still first and foremost a scientific institute, but its beautiful landscapes, outstanding collections of exotic plants, historic buildings and good transport links by road or rail from London and beyond make it one of the UK's finest days out.
The extensive, world famous glasshouses mean that even in the winter a visit is full of fascination. The Palm House, 2248 square metres of Victorian ingenuity, houses tropical plants from around the globe, banana, coffee, breadfruit and paw-paw, to name but a few.
The Japanese Gateway, Chokushi-Mon, is surrounded by an authentic Japanese landscape and the Evolution House takes visitors on a dramatic journey through four hundred million years of plant life.
The Princess of Wales Conservatory contains ten climatic zones - from steamy rain forest, to arid desert. February 5th through to March 6th brings the stunning display of orchids at Kew's annual Orchid Festival. This is followed by the Bulb Burst Festival, incorporating various Easter activities, and over 5 million breathtaking bulbs.
Other features in the Gardens include a visitor centre, two art galleries, three restaurants and two gift shops.
Open daily 9.30am (except Christmas and New Year's Day)
£10 adult, £7 concession
Children 16 and under free
Information line: 020 8332 5655
Kew Gardens' prices and opening times
For information tel 020 8332 5655 or visit www.kew.org