Royal Botanical Gardens
Surrey TW9 3AB
TfL Fare Zone 3
The Royal Botanical Gardens, at Kew are located on the south bank of the River Thames near Richmond. Just 6.2 miles (10 kms) south-west of London, they are easily accessible by public transport. Covering over 300 acres (121 ha), these Gardens are a delight at any time of year and well worth visiting.
There is always something beautiful to see, even in winter when the leafless trees allow uninterrupted vistas through the park.
January is the time to see snowdrops especially in the Rock Garden and around the Temple of the Aeolus. February sees the camellias in the Woodland in bloom and daffodils from mid February line the Broad Walk. From February to early March the area around Victoria Plaza is carpeted with crocuses. The Conservation area is a mass of bluebells.
Spring is the cherry blossom, massed tulips and the start of the rhododendrons blooming. The rose gardens are a riot of colour and perfume in the summer, and in autumn the deciduous trees’ leaves turn red, gold and burnt orange, before falling for winter.
Some of the iconic features of Kew Gardens are the Victorian double-storey cast iron and glass Tropical and Temperate Plant glasshouses; the 18th century Pagoda and Follies; Kew Palace and the Princess of Wales Orchid House and of course the Treetop Walkway from which there are superb views of the crowns of the lime, sweet chestnut and oak trees on display at Kew.
Map of Kew Gardens
Four entrances to Kew
Victoria Gate: is the nearest to Kew Gardens Underground Station, about 3 minutes walk away. The No. 65 bus stops outside this entrance.
Main Gate: is nearest to Kew Bridge Mainline Rail Station and Kew Pier river-boat stop. About 10 minutes walk to this gate.
Brentford Gate: is close to the car park and convenient for walkers using the Thames Tow Path walk.
Lion Gate: is the southernmost entrance on Kew Road, and near the Pagoda. Walkers from Richmond should use this entrance.
Accessible - There is room for one wheelchair in the back of the ‘Kew Explorer’.
The Rhizotron is fully accessible to wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Entry is via a path on a gentle downwards slope with handrail, on a smooth surface. The exit path is an identical upward slope.
The Treetop Walkway lift is available for disabled and mobility impaired visitors. Mobility scooters and pushchairs are not permitted on the Treetop Walkway.
Open all year except 24 & 25 December from 10:00 hours.
Open April to September.
If you wish to visit Kew Palace whilst you are visiting Kew Gardens, its is wise to note that Kew Palace entry costs are in addition to the Kew Gardens entrance price. You must have both a Kew Gardens ticket and Kew Palace ticket to visit the Palace as access to the Palace is through the Gardens.
Please go to the above 'Admission Costs' link (above) for details.
The ‘Kew Explorer’ people mover enables visitors to get an over all view of the Gardens in 40 minutes. Ideal for people with not much time to spend for orientation. There are 8 stops and visitors can get on and off at these locations throughout the day. Tickets may be purchased at the entrance gates, the shops or from the driver - for further information, route and stops - Web: Kew Explorer
History of Kew
Between the 16th and 18th centuries the riverside land between Richmond and Kew became the fashionable place for Royalty to live. Two major gardens developed next door to each other – Richmond Gardens and Kew Farm.
These two gardens developed and expanded most under the tenure of Prince Frederick and Princess Augusta and King George III and Queen Charlotte.
In 1759 Princess Augusta established the Botanic Garden, now recognised as the foundation of the present Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. After Princess Augusta died in 1772, Sir Joseph Banks began his involvement with Kew.
King George III amalgamated Richmond and Kew Gardens along with a lot of riverside property and made many improvements. He allowed Joseph Banks to determine the future direction the Botanic Gardens should take. Banks ensured that the Gardens not simply a collecting house for botanical specimens, but the British centre for economic botany with a direct practical relevance to both Britain and her colonies.
During Queen Victoria’s reign the Palm House and the Temperate House, were built; the National Arboretum was laid out and the Herbarium collection was founded. The iconic glass and wrought iron Palm House was built in 1844-48. Scientific research expanded and Kew became essential to the developing Empire, supplying seed, crops and horticultural advice to the colonies.
This philosophy continues today with the establishment of the Millennium Seed Bank, expanded scientific research and education.
In keeping with the Gardens aim to educate young people about their environment, a number of fun activities have been designed:
- ‘Climbers and Creepers’ is an interactive play area for children aged 3 – 9.
- The Badger Set is a network of metre high tunnels where children can explore and see just what a Badger’s home is like.
- The ‘Dipping Pond’ is designed for children to net and examine aquatic life. The pond is surrounded by large wooden sculptures of dragonflies, newts and frogs to help with identification.
Guided Walking Tours
Tours usually leave from the Guides' desk, just inside the Victoria Plaza - Tours last about an hour. The Guide takes up to 15 people on a first come, first served basis. Visitors need to register with their guide 15 minutes before the tour departs.
The Orangery: is located near the Main Gate, in Kew Green. Open from 10:00 to an hour before the Gardens close.
Victoria Plaza Café: is located near Victoria Gate, Kew Road. Serves tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes. Open year round 10:00 until 30 minutes before the Gardens close.
White Peaks: is located near the MainGate, Kew Green. Open from 10:00am until one hour before the Gardens close. During Winter and less busy periods grilled food may not be available.
The Pavilion: is located near the Lion Gate, southern end of Kew Road. Summer opening only from 10:00 until one hour before the Gardens close.
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)2083 325 655 (24 hour Information Line)
Google Maps - Kew Gardens