The Ultimate Guide to Kew Garden, London

The walkway of Palm House that allows you to be at the level of tree canopy

Famous for being home to thousands of species, Kew Garden might not be as gripping as a zoo, but the allure of the floras are not to be underestimated. Nestled in the south-west corner of London, this royal garden was opened in 1759 and boasts over 212 hectares of ground. A popular tourist destination and a magnet for plant lovers, it’s a great place to visit on a summer day along with a picnic.

A Short History of Kew Garden

The Palm House with its wrought iron structure, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
The Palm House with its wrought iron structure

The Kew Garden area has been linked to the royals since the 13th century, and eventually become the home to many royals when the Richmond Palace was built in the Henry VII. It became the Kew Field in the 17th century, and eventually merged into the royal estates of Richmond in 1772. From then on, it begins to take on its modern incarnation with the building of the Chinese Pagoda in 1761 by Willian Chambers and a plant collector was appointed in 1771 to oversee the collection.

In 1840, it became a national botanical garden. In the following decade, greenhouses were built and Kew Garden was put on the UNESCO World Heritage Site in July, 2003.

Kew Garden Opening times:

  •  27/3/16 – 29/8/16 Mon – Fri 10:00 – 6:30, Weekends 10:00 – 19:30;
  • 30/8/16 – 29/10/16 daily 10:00 – 18:00
  •  30/10/16 – 17/2/17 daily 10:00 – 16:15
  • 11/2/17 – 25/5/17 daily 10:00 – 17:30

Please be advised that individual attraction closes at different times, check the website for more details 

Kew Garden Admission Fee:

Adult: 15, Concession 14, Children (4-16) 3.5; Family tickets available

Note: the queue to the ticket office can be long, it is adviced that you buy your tickets before your trip.

Get Kew Garden Tickets

 

How to get to Kew Garden:

I took the district line to Kew Garden Station (zone 3) and followed the crowd to Victoria Gate. I won’t do a better job than the Kew website. But if you want some tips on London Transport, my guide is here.

 

Flora of Kew Garden

some gorgeous flovers in the Princes of Wales Conservatory, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
some gorgeous flovers in the Princes of Wales Conservatory

Kew Garden is home to over 30,000 different species of plants, and the great variation of floras is difficult not to admire even if you have zero idea of what they are. I certainly have little idea of what species I was taking a photo of. None the less, there are still some lower level groupings from which we can understand and remember, such as climates:

Palm House

The walkway of Palm House that allows you to be at the level of tree canopy, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
The walkway of Palm House that allows you to be at the level of tree canopy

The first greenhouse you see if you enter through Victoria Gate, its magnificent wrought iron structure with green tinted glass is a stunning picture in itself. It houses palm trees and you can go to the walkway to admire them from the canopy level. The spiral staircases are a hidden gem in themselves.

Staircase at Palm House, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
The very Art Nouveau/ Victoria spiral staircase

Alpine House

Alpine House's signature shape, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
Alpine House’s signature shape

With a roof that resembles the spine of a dinosaur, the Alpine House is one of the smallest greenhouses at 16 meters long and 10 meters high. Opened in March 2006, it houses a rotating cast of alpine plants that lives from 2000 meters to over 7000 meters.

 

Waterlily House

The beautiful waterliy greenhouse, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
The beautiful waterliy greenhouse

A small, one storey greenhouse not far from the Palm House, the Waterlily house is gorgeous because of its inhabitants. A humid greenhouse, its main attraction waterlilies reside in the pond and there are numerous signs educating visitors on the species.

Lily pads in the pond at waterlily greenhouse, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
Lily pads

 

Princess of Wales Conservatory

 

A flowering cacti blooming in the conservatory, Princess of Wales Conservatory, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
A flowering cacti blooming in the conservatory

Opened by Princess Diana in 1987, it is the third largest greenhouse in Kew Garden but is actually named after Princess Augusta who supported Kew tirelessly. Housing many different plants in a variety of climate zone, it’s like walking in a maze in the conservatory. You will see orchids, cacti, water lilies and even carnivorous plants in the 4,499 square meter space.

some more beautiful hanging flowers, Princess of Wales Conservatory, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
some more beautiful hanging flowers

The Temperate House is currently under construction and is the biggest green house.

 

Sightseeing in Kew Garden

A random brick gate overgrown with flowers, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
A random brick gate overgrown with flowers

To really explore Kew Garden, you would need to spend a full day there. Aside from the greenhouses, there are various other fixtures and landmarks to see:

Treetop Walkway

Treetop walkway, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
Treetop walk way blending in

Opened in 2008, this structure is reminiscent of Singapore’s Garden by the Bay minus the trees. It stands at 18 meters above ground and at 200 meters long, allowing you to walk along at tree canopy level. Since the ground is made of metal mesh, it’s not for the faint hearted.

Sackler Crossing

Sackler Crossing
Sackler Crossing from an angle where you can see that it’s not a wall

A quirky little bridge built in 2006, it has a unique bronze fence that gives an illusion of being a wall due to the angle they are placed. Combined with the curved granite walkway spanning across the lake, it is a strangely pleasing minimalistic bridge.

Chinese Pagoda

Chinese Pagoda, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
sometimes it’s best to admire from afar

Built by Sir William Chamber in 1762, the Chinese Pagoda is ten storeys high and can be seen from afar. It is opened to the public with 253 steps to the top. It looks great from afar, however, I found it a little lacklustre and disappointing up close.

The Japanese Gateway

Japanese Gate, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
It is still surrounded by a fence

Moved here in 1911, the Japanese Gateway was originally a piece in the Japan-British Exhibition in 1910. It now stands before the Japanese Garden.

Kew Palace

Kew Palace, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
Playing Peek-a-boo with the Kew Palace

A delightful orange palace, it is the smallest British royal palaces built around 1631. Originally a Dutch Merchant’s home, it was built in the Flemish bond style and purchased by George III. It is open to visitor and connects to the Queen’s Garden.

General grounds:

 Rose pergola, Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
Rose pergola, a little void of roses for the while
Forever alone chair in Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
The forever alone chair for one
walkway,Kew Garden, London, UK | Laugh Travel Eat
A reprieve from the heat

wing-flowers

Visiting the flower gardens
Visiting the flower gardens

 

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Written by Nam Cheah

Hi, my name is Nam. I am 24 and spent half my life in Hong Kong and the other half in UK. I believe there's endless experience and beauty in the world and this is me chronicling how to experience the best at the best price.

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