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Summer 2014 at Kew Gardens

PLANTASIA supported by GSK, from 24 May until 7 September

1 April 2014

This summer, immerse yourself in nature’s healing sanctuary, Plantasia, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and experience the stimulating and transformative power of plants: from barefoot walking trails and natural soundscapes, to home remedy workshops and truly spectacular horticultural displays of beauty and wonder, visitors will see how life-enhancing plants and fungi affect human health in mind, body and soul at the stunning setting of London’s Kew Gardens.

Wander freely along the Barefoot Walking Trail in the arboretum: Balance on beams and hop across tree trunks and experience the different textures upon your soles that nature has to offer. From the moist, bouncy softness typical of rainforest floors, to the muddy ‘squelch’ zone, walkers will experience a stimulating physical reconnection with their surroundings.

Enjoy cocktails in the splendour of the Gin and Tonics Garden and learn their forgotten medicinal properties as you sip and swirl (Open until late on selected evenings throughout the summer. Visit kew.org for detailed timings).

A sensory experience set to lift the spirits will draw visitors to the Palm House where beautiful sounds will float through the air. Explore the glasshouse’s Rainforest Remedies and learn how indigenous peoples from around the world have used nature’s pharmacy through time for healing.

At weekly workshops held by Kew experts, discover surprising remedies growing in your back garden and learn to concoct soothing lotions and potions. From calming herbal tea blends, to healing balms using essential oils, discover how people used these home cures to treat everyday complaints before the advent of the NHS, and learn how Kew came to scientifically verify many of these Remembered Remedies for a special project.

Visitors will encounter a gigantic Medicine Man: A spectacular, human-shaped horticultural display showcasing the effects of plants on different parts of the human body. Walk around the face and see the natural skin treatments people have used throughout the ages. Reach the heart and encounter the plants commonly employed as love potions and aphrodisiacs. A visual touchstone of the festival, this beautiful work will embody the cultural, medicinal and scientific links between plants and man.

Discover Chinese medicinal plants throughout the Gardens and learn about treatments used successfully by hundreds of millions of people around the world for conditions from angina to acne.

The Queens Garden at Kew Palace is to be permanently updated for the festival, to provide a chronological journey through of the different uses of medicinal plants: The revamped, soothingly fragrant aromatherapy plants in the Palace Parterre will compare traditional and contemporary uses of essential oils. In the Nose Gay, herbals used to treat King George III for his deteriorating mental health will be planted alongside backyard remedies commonly home-grown in Britain before the advent of the NHS. In the palace courtyard, a medicinal kitchen garden will teach people the healing properties of everyday culinary ingredients.

Children and adults alike will delight in engaging with roaming performers, from stories and tales with Mrs M and her cart-load of curiosities, to a very wacky game of croquet led by the ‘Kew World Croquet Team’: running five days a week, the game will invite visitors of all ages to explore the journey from plant to pharmacy through participatory installations, hands-on demonstrations, music, songs and of course, croquet.

Other activities for the summer include Tai Chi sessions on Syon vista. Medicinal Trees throughout the Gardens will also be celebrated and decorated, forming a stunning arboreal display.

All of this will be set against a backdrop of spectacular swathes of floral colour, forming a visual feast for the eyes and showcasing the uplifting, inspiring and life-enhancing power of plants.

Ends

For images, visit www.kew.org/images

Please contact the press office for a username and password

For more information on the festival, or any of Kew’s work, please contact the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Press Office on 020 8332 5607 or email pr@kew.org

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 over 1.5m visits 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. Kew receives approximately half its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.

GSK – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.  For further information please visit www.gsk.com.