Aug 22, 2015

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew | England

Set amongst a series of parks and estates along the River Thames' south-western reaches, this historic landscape garden includes work by internationally renowned landscape architects Bridgeman, Kent, Chambers, Capability Brown and Nesfield illustrating significant periods in garden design from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The gardens house extensive botanic collections (conserved plants, living plants and documents) that have been considerably enriched through the centuries. Since their creation in 1759, the gardens have made a significant and uninterrupted contribution to the study of plant diversity, plant systematics and economic botany.

The landscape design of Kew Botanic Gardens, their buildings and plant collections combine to form a unique testimony to developments in garden art and botanical science that were subsequently diffused around the world. The 18th century English landscape garden concept was adopted in Europe and Kew's influence in horticulture, plant classification and economic botany spread internationally from the time of Joseph Banks' directorship in the 1770s. As the focus of a growing level of botanic activity, the mid 19th century garden, which overlays earlier royal landscape gardens is centred on two large iron framed glasshouses - the Palm House and the Temperate House that became models for conservatories around the world. Elements of the 18th and 19th century layers including the Orangery, Queen Charlotte's Cottage; the folly temples; Rhododendron Dell, boundary ha-ha; garden vistas to William Chambers' pagoda and Syon Park House; iron framed glasshouses; ornamental lakes and ponds; herbarium and plant collections convey the history of the Gardens' development from royal retreat and pleasure garden to national botanical and horticultural garden before becoming a modern institution of conservation ecology in the 20th century.[UNESCO]

The Gardens and its 44 listed buildings are a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003.

King William's Temple, erected in 1837, with Rhododendron species and hybrids in flower on the slope, and the Flagstaff [214ft high] in the background.

Victoria amazonica: The great Amazon Water Lily in House No. 10 whose giant leaves can reach a diameter of six feet. The flowers, produced in summer, open in the evening and are at first pure white in colour but fade to pink or purple within 24 hours.

Japanese Gateway or Ghokushi Mon, between a Silver Maple [Acer saccharinum] and a Cedar of Lebanon [Cedrus libani], with beds of Japanese maples, hybrid azaleas and a Japanese cherry.

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