- Type: Picnics, Parks & Gardens
NileGuide Expert Says:
Visit weekdays to avoid crowds and explore the noteworthy Kew Village
NileGuide Expert tip:
Have tea across from Kew at the Original Maids of Honour
These world-famous gardens offer thousands of varieties of plants. But Kew Gardens, as it's known, is no mere pleasure garden -- it's essentially a vast scientific research center that happens to be beautiful. The gardens, on a 120-hectare (296-acre) site, encompass lakes, greenhouses, walks, pavilions, and museums, along with examples of the architecture of Sir William Chambers. Among the 50,000 plants are notable collections of ferns, orchids, aquatic plants, cacti, mountain plants, palms, and tropical water lilies.
No matter what season you visit, Kew always has something to see, from the first spring flowers through to winter. Gigantic hothouses grow species of shrubs, blooms, and trees from every part of the globe, from the Arctic Circle to tropical rainforests. Attractions include a newly restored Japanese gateway in traditional landscaping, as well as exhibitions that vary by season. The greenhouse, the Princess of Wales Conservatory (beyond the rock garden), encompasses 10 climatic zones, from arid to tropical; it has London's most thrilling collection of miniature orchids. The Marianne North Gallery (1882) is an absolute gem, paneled with 246 different types of wood that the intrepid Victorian artist collected on her world journeys; she also collected 832 paintings of exotic and tropical flora, all displayed on the walls. The Visitor Centre at Victoria Gate houses an exhibit telling the story of Kew, as well as a bookshop.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Very Highly Recommended 2010