If London is one of your vacation spots this summer, rather than spending all of your days shopping on Oxford Street, I would highly recommend a day trip to Kew Gardens. It is one of London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage sites, and holds a huge collection of plants that is considered to be the most diverse in the world! The garden itself covers about 300 acres, and contains trees and plants from the tropics, deserts, mountains and other environments that you can observe and admire in the glasshouses or nurseries. And did I mention that this is a fantastic spot for the family? If as an adult, I’m obsessed with just walking around, I’m sure the child-friendly exhibits should keep your young ones busy with curiosity for hours.
What I especially love about visiting Kew Gardens is that it can easily be a nice and comfortable day trip as they have lovely restaurants, cafés, and souvenir shops inside. So if you get tired or hungry, you can always grab a bite to eat, rest up, and then continue walking through the gardens. And if you’re not keen on walking, they also have a little land train that offers a guided tour and takes you through the gardens.
As I do make it a point to visit every single time I visit London (dragging my poor parents along with me every time), I thought I’d show you the parts of the garden that I enjoy seeing when I’m there. And I swear, I see something new every time I go!
The Hive is a unique installation that uses sensory experiences to highlight the life of bees. The intensity of the lights and the sounds inside the Hive are a response to the activities of real bees in a hive at Kew! Crazy, right? This is all part of the garden’s effort to help raise awareness about the importance of honey bees as they are in decline in the UK.
As you can probably guess from the name, this greenhouse is filled with gorgeous tropical plants and trees. You may have seen quite a few of these, but I was most impressed by the size and maturity of some of these plants. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to see some of these plants with their bizarre blooms!
PRINCESS OF WALES CONSERVATORY
This is one of my favorite greenhouses in the garden, and not just because it was opened by Princess Diana. It is home to ten different environments including desert and tropical conditions. You can see cactuses, succulents, water lilies, orchids, birds of paradise, and many many more beautiful plants that I generally have an interest in these days.
What I also love about these kinds of greenhouses, is that it gives you a really good sense of the kind of environment that you need for these plants, and how you can put stuff together. I walked in and immediately wanted to change my entire yard into a xeriscape haven. Let’s see – maybe this fall!
If you love trees, this is the section to go to. I still haven’t explored this entire area, but it is absolutely stunning. It almost feels like you’re in a different world – totally surrounded by majestic trees! Also, the Japanese garden and the Treetop Walkway (avoid if you’re afraid of heights though!) are very close to this as well, so make sure you check those spots out too!
The Rock Garden was constructed in 1882, and is meant to show you the features of a mountain habitat. I loved the serenity of this part of the garden. It’s a spot where you might just want to sit, take it all in, and enjoy your surroundings.
I have yet to see the Temperate House and am very excited about it opening up sometime next year. So let me know if you get a chance to see it before I do!
Getting there: Kew is about 30 minutes away from central London, and is easily accessible by public transport, so check out their site to see how best to get there.
Make sure that you have an Oyster card to make your travels easier on the Tube system. They even have a daily charge limit (which is super convenient), so you can essentially travel for free after you hit that maximum charge!
Opening Times: 10 AM
Closing Times: 6:30 PM Monday to Thursday, and 8:30 PM Friday to Sunday (including bank holidays)
Do check the schedule online to make sure that the opening and closing times are correct as times may change seasonally.