Secret Gardens: Kew Gardens, Richmond

Above: Inside Kew's Princess of Wales Conservatory

Exploring the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and their history

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a World Heritage Site, well known as a place for important botanical research and education. We all recognise Kew’s landmark palm trees and impressive glasshouses, but Kew is also home to many treasures and pieces of history you may not be aware of.

Kew Palace, in Richmond, was originally the Royal Family’s summer residence as far back as the mid-1700s. Exotic plants were sent to Princess Augusta’s garden from all over the world, and over time the gardens have grown to be the Kew we know today.

Above: Inside Kew's Temperate House

Palm House and the oldest pot plant in the world

Kew is home to the oldest pot plant in the world, which departed from South Africa in 1773 and has been housed in Palm House ever since. 

The iconic Palm House, completed in 1848, was the largest glasshouse ever to be constructed at the time. The architect used design techniques from the shipbuilding industry in order to pull off the construction, which is why the exterior looks like the capsized hull of a ship.

Palm House at Kew Gardens, which looks like the hull of an upturned ship

Above: Kew's Palm House

During the Second World War, 30 high explosives fell on Kew Gardens, breaking the glass of the Temperate House greenhouse.

Today, you can visit and explore Kew Gardens all year round. Tag us in your photos @stormflowersgarden to be featured on our feed, and share your stories of what you discover there.

How to get there

Kew Gardens, Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE

Travel: The nearest train stations are: Kew Bridge Station (800m from Elizabeth Gate TW9 3AE) and Richmond Station (1km from Lion Gate TW9 2DF) - both with Southwestern Railway train services from London Waterloo via Clapham Junction, or the District Line Underground from Richmond. Kew Gardens Station is 500m from Victoria Gate (TW9 3JR) - London Overground and District Line.

Bus route 110 stops at all three stations, and the nearest bus stop is Kew Gardens Road, near the Victoria Gate entrance.

Entry: £19 for an advance adult ticket including donation during peak season (February-October). Concessions available.

Opening times: Daily 10am to different closing times throughout the year. 

Visit Kew's website for more information.