Kew Gardens is a place that we have been wanting to visit for a while. With our affinity and passion for all things green, we knew it would be somewhere that we would both love. Plus, it’s only an hour and 30 minutes away from where we live, so we had no excuse not to go really!
Entry can be purchased on the day, or you can buy tickets in advance online. You can also choose whether to give a donation (it’s only around £1 extra, so I figure it’s worth it, if it keeps the research and the grounds going) or pay the minimum price. Either way, if you are a UK taxpayer, don’t forget to Giftaid your purchase so that Kew can claim back the tax.
There’s paid parking on site, but if you can get there early (before 10am), there’s loads of parking nearby on the road which is free at weekends! To be honest, the gardens are so huge, you’ll want to make the most of the day anyway, so it’s worth setting that alarm and getting there early.
As you’re wandering through the gardens, look out for the resident peacock sheltering in the undergrowth, or soaking up the sunshine. Isn’t he beautiful?
We enjoyed every area within the gardens, but the conservatories and greenhouses were some of the more interesting sections. With their ability to house beautiful and exotic flora, the greenhouses are filled with all sorts of eccentric sights and quirky plants. The Alpine Davies house is small but perfectly formed, with lots of lovely little floral displays and rockeries.
Our favourite greenhouse however, has to be the Palm House. It was the first indoor section we tackled, and we spent the longest portion of our day just wandering around it, admiring the exotic plants and enjoying the humidity on a cool spring morning.
I wonder who keeps all of that glass clean?
The Palm House has three levels within it, including an upper terrace, accessible by a beautiful spiral staircase. From the upper level, you can gaze down upon the lush tropical forest sprawled across the ground floor, and admire the heady combination of nature and beautiful architecture.
Many of the plant species within the Palm House are endangered or even extinct in the wild. Scientists of Kew use the greenhouse for research into medicines derived from plants.
Delving down into the basement section, you will find an aquarium which houses tropical and marine fish. You can even find Nemo down there!
The Princess of Wales Conservatory however comes in close second to the Palm House. Filled with succulents, cacti and orchids, this conservatory is colourful and eccentric, and every corner reveals something completely new and exciting to see.
The conservatory commemorates Princess Augusta who founded the gardens, and was opened in 1987 by the Princess of Wales.
Just look at those mini pineapples, aren’t they just the cutest things??
I absolutely loved these hanging orchid canopies too.
The conservatory contains several different sections, each of which are controlled by a different temperature and humidity. The majority of the areas are dry, tropical climates, but there are also wet zones which ‘rain’ at various times throughout the day.
If you need a break from the humid conditions of the greenhouses, make your way over to the treetop walk for some fresh air and great views. I definitely think that this attraction will be at its best during the summer months, when the trees are in full bloom. Or perhaps during Autumn, when the leaves are just beginning to turn to tones of copper and gold.
Designed by Marks Barfield Architects (the creatives behind the London Eye), the rusted steel structure blends almost seamlessly into its surroundings. To reach the top, there is a staircase or the option of a lift. Just be warned, there are 118 fairly steep stairs on the staircase, so if you think you’ll struggle, do opt for the lift! We decided to skip the queue and tackle the stairs, and they weren’t really too bad!
Another perfect spot to get away from it all is in amongst these spectacular magnolia trees. I think they were particularly striking as so much else was still hibernating after Winter. They shined like candyfloss-coloured beacons amongst the stark surroundings. I could have spent hours sat beneath these pretty blossoms with a good book and a picnic. Maybe next time!
Don’t forget to take a moment to stop and enjoy a spot of lunch! We treated ourselves to some delicious sandwiches and cake from The Orangery restaurant. This banana and coconut loaf slice was absolutely divine.
Tucked away unassumingly at the top of a hill is the Temple of Aeolus. Aeolus, in Greek mythology, was the ruler of the winds. The hilltop upon which this dainty temple is perched, is supposedly one of the best places to experience and appreciate the gentle breeze drifting through the gardens, hence the title.
These tunnels I imagine will be covered in beautiful wistaria come late spring. I bet it is just magical. We could see the border gardens here just starting to show signs of life at the end of the winter period. There are also bee hives in this part of the gardens which visitors can take a peek at. Kew Gardens are really pushing to help save our bees here in England, and provide lots of help and advice on how to make your own garden more bee-friendly. They even have a huge and unique piece of architecture dedicated to the brilliance of the humble bee, which I will come onto shortly!
I absolutely loved this little structure, with its gorgeous teal and gold detailing – isn’t it pretty? It’s situated just opposite the Kew Palace, but I personally think it’s even more majestic than the palace itself.
The Hive is a recent addition to the Kew estate. Created in 2016 by UK-based artist Wolfgang Buttress, The Hive is designed to highlight the intricate and fascinating life of bees. The 17m square structure is linked to a real beehive at Kew, and the sounds and LED light displays seen from within it are triggered by activity at the real beehive.
Wouldn’t it be a real shame to lose our bees? If you have your own outdoor space, no matter how big or small, why not help the bees out by planting some bee-friendly plants? Some varieties to consider are lavender, heather, rhododendrons, rosemary, forget-me-nots, thyme or mint.
We had a fab day exploring Kew Gardens – I would suggest that you plan a whole day for your visit, as the gardens are deceptively large! We’ve put together a little vlog of our day here which you can check out below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you enjoy!