Botanical Play at Kew this Autumn
This autumn the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is celebrating International Year of Biodiversity by inviting families to come and explore our unique botanical play areas. At Kew, we believe that playing and learning should go hand in hand, which is why we offer a variety of play areas that encourage children to take part in activities that are both fun and informative. Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Kew Gardens, and with these fantastic outdoor play areas, and the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, there is double the fun for families.
Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, says, “Our botanical play areas teach children about the vital importance of plants and trees. 2010 has been declared International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations, and with children being the future custodians of the planet, it is more important than ever that they enjoy, learn, and care about the plants on which our very existence depends.”
Nestled in the grounds near Queen Charlotte’s Cottage in Kew's Conservation Zone, the primary message of PLANTastic Play is that ‘every bit plays its part’ – it’s a biodiversity adventure that shows it isn’t just pretty flowers that matter. Shaped like a plant, children enter the play area via the roots, walk through the stem where they will encounter leaves (one with balance beam ‘veins’, representing a food web) hide between fungi, disappear into a leaf maze, pretend to be bees zooming towards flowers on the zip wire, spin seeds, watch birds make homes in the bird house, and clamber on the timber stacks to find a variety of insects and micro-organisms. As they explore each part, children are encouraged to consider how it relates to the whole, and to the world around it. At every turn, there is something to learn – hunting for clues, solving puzzles, and enjoying science in a fun and interactive environment.
Rhizotron and Xstrata Treetop Walkway
Autumn is the best time of year to visit one of Kew's most popular attractions – the 18m high Xstrata Treetop Walkway – with views across the Gardens to the London skyline. Admire the beautiful colours of our show-stopping trees – a haze of golden browns, burnt oranges and deep reds. These vistas reveal the Gardens as never before, and reach out to include Wembley Stadium and the Gherkin. Walk a 200 metre circuit up high in the Arboretum canopy to take in the autumnal transformation of sweet chestnuts, limes and deciduous oaks, planted in the 18th century. Wildlife watchers will find it easier to spot birds such as tawny owls and woodpeckers flitting through the branches and squirrels foraging for winter food supplies. Visitors journey from a tree’s fascinating root system in the Rhizotron, learning about a tree's life underground, to the top of the tree canopy to explore biodiversity from above.
Treehouse Towers provides a fun family day out at Kew Gardens and brings together nature and adventure, whilst also offering educational opportunities for children to learn about and appreciate trees. Supported by Velvet Toilet tissue, Treehouse Towers features climbing towers and wooden play equipment, such as giant swings, zip wires, scramble nets, slides and a mountaineering ramp.
Climbers and Creepers
Climbers and Creepers is an innovative indoor play facility. The interior space is packed with games and adventures that provide an exciting encounter with a magical landscape of super-sized plants. The undulating floor of Climbers and Creepers invites children to get down to the business of play in a hands-on way. They can climb into a flower to pollinate it, get swallowed by a giant pitcher plant, and crawl through a bramble tangle while some of the plants respond in speech and sound. Simple principals of botanical science form the basis of each component, introducing ideas about plant reproduction and survival, and their vital relationships with insects and mammals.
Shanghai Expo Photography Exhibition
From 2 to 31 October Kew will display a photographic exhibition hosted by the Chinese Embassy in London in the Nash Conservatory reflecting and celebrating The Expo 2010 in Shanghai China, as it draws to a close. This international fair represents 246 nations and international organisations, and has made history as the World Exposition with the widest international participation so far. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, founded by Kew, has provided the central theme for the UK Pavilion, designed by Architect Thomas Heatherwick. A selection of images will be on display, taken by Kew’s Seed Morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy, which will honour the connection.
The exhibition includes a selection of impressive views of the Shanghai Expo site, among which are the Chinese and UK Pavilions. There are also images of people celebrating the Expo, from volunteers to worldwide visitors, and beautiful images of the city itself, both historic and contemporary. For more information on the Millennium Seed Bank at The Shanghai Expo 2010, please visit http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/what-we-do/shanghai-expo-2010/.
Biodiversity – ‘Tapestry of Trees’
For October and November only, Kew is offering guided walks that focus on the diversity of the Gardens’ stunning trees. The tours are daily, starting at 12pm, and meet at the Visitors Desk in Victoria Plaza. They are limited to 15 people on a first come, first served basis, and visitors are asked to register with the guide 15 minutes before the tour commences. All tours are free.
Open House London 18-19 September
For the weekend of September 18-19 only, Kew is throwing open the doors to some of its most fascinating behind-the-scenes locations, including free tours of the following:
Herbarium, Library, Art, and Archives: Sat/Sun 10am - 4pm. Last entry 3pm. Staff will talk about the preserved plant and fungal collections, and the purpose of the building.
Tropical Nursery: Sun 11am - 5pm. Enter though the black wrought iron gate beside White Peaks. Nursery staff will be on hand to talk about the plants on display, including beautiful orchids and rare conservation plants, and to answer any questions.
Jodrell Laboratory: Sat 10am, 12pm, 4pm. Sun: 1pm, 3pm. Meet at Main Gate. Pre-book through Open House London, www.openhouselondon.org.uk/bookings. Over 80 Scientists are based in this building, and use the latest DNA techniques to understand plants. The tours are Architect-led.
Architectural Tour: Sat/Sun 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm. Meet at Main Gate. Pre-book, 0208 332 5604 / email@example.com. Buildings highlighted are Nash Conservatory, Orangery, Kew Palace, Princess of Wales Conservatory, Davies Alpine House, Palm House, Waterlily House, and Museum No.1.
Exhibition: Bulbmania - Flowers from the Kew Collection
August 28 – January 3, The Shirley Sherwood Gallery
This stunning exhibition, comprising of more than 70 paintings, celebrates the beauty of bulbs. The exhibition is made up of works from Kew’s collection, Dr Shirley Sherwood’s ‘Hidden Treasures’ collection, and works from the Brooklyn Florilegium Society.
Special Spooky Tours
29 – 31 October
Take a trip on the Halloween Kew Explorer and listen to mysterious tales of Kew. Tours run hourly between 11.30am and 3.30pm from Stop 1 near Victoria Gate. Adult £4, Child (under 17), £1.
For more information please contact the RBG Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Images are available to download from www.kew.org/press/images . Please contact the press office for the username and password.
Notes to editors:
- Opening hours: 9.30am – 6.30pm (weekdays), 9.30 – 7.30pm (weekends)
- Last entry to the Gardens, the Glasshouses, Galleries and the Xstrata Treetop Walkway is 30 minutes before closing
- Admission: Adults £13.50, Concessions £11.50, free for children under 17 (with an adult)
- Visitor information: 020 8332 5655 or email@example.com
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species). The aim is to conserve 25% by 2020, and its enormous potential for future conservation can only be fulfilled with the support of the public and other funders.
Kew needs to raise significant funds both in the UK and overseas. Members of the public can support the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership by getting involved with the ‘Adopt a Seed, Save a Species' campaign. For £25 an individual can adopt a seed or for £1000 anyone can save an entire species. www.kew.org/adoptaseedhttp://www.kew.org/adoptaseed.
‘Biodiversity Year at Kew’ in 2010 will celebrate the importance of plant diversity in underpinning biodiversity through a programme of themed and seasonal horticultural displays, art exhibitions, educational activities for all the family and scientific announcements. For a full programme of events see www.kew.org/press/2010.html or visit www.kew.org/biodiversity.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is part of the world-wide celebrations of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity, and is one of over 300 UK organisations, charities and groups supporting this global awareness campaign. The diversity of life on earth is crucial for human well-being and now is the time to act to preserve it. For information on events, initiatives and exhibitions across the UK during 2010 visit www.biodiversityislife.net.
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