Guided

Kew Gardens

The first thing you notice about Kew Gardens is that it is huge. I mean, truly gigantic. I went here very naively, expecting a single greenhouse, and I found at least three huge greenhouses, a palace, two restaurants, some art galleries, teepees (?), and a treetop walkway. And that’s all in addition to the sprawling garden grounds. Apparently this place employs something like 750 people, which is a shit-ton. It also has its own police force and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were here for a few hours, and we barely scratched the surface in terms of what Kew Gardens has to offer. 

Kew Gardens is located outside of the main part of the city (again, huge), about a half hour bus ride away from the city center. We came here on Boxing Day, when a lot of businesses in the city are closed, so the Gardens were quite busy. 

 Kew Gardens has a restaurant and a smaller cafe and bakery. This is from Orangery Restaurant, which is housed in a gorgeous 18th century building designed by Sir William Chambers.

Kew Gardens has a restaurant and a smaller cafe and bakery. This is from Orangery Restaurant, which is housed in a gorgeous 18th century building designed by Sir William Chambers.

 The Palm House includes wrought-iron spiral staircases that take you to an upper level where you can look over all the plants, or underneath where there is a small aquarium. 

The Palm House includes wrought-iron spiral staircases that take you to an upper level where you can look over all the plants, or underneath where there is a small aquarium. 

Many of the attractions were closed down for winter (there’s a reduced fare during this time), so we spent most of our time in two of the main greenhouses—the Palm House (an elegant, wrought-iron, classic-looking solarium), and the Princess of Wales Conservatory (a newer conservatory housing ten micro-climate chambers spanning a wide range of different plant-types), and I would consider both to be absolute must-sees. I was bummed to miss the Waterlily House, Kew Palace, and the Temperate House, which were all closed for the winter or for renovation. I also just couldn't find the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, which may or may not have been closed. In any case, it’s very clear that this is a place we’ll need to keep coming back to. 

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 This is the Nash Conservatory, which was closed for the winter. But I snuck this photo through a window anyway. 

This is the Nash Conservatory, which was closed for the winter. But I snuck this photo through a window anyway. 

More information about Kew Gardens can be found here. Tickets can be bought online for a discount here.