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Itinerary tips for a summer visit to Kew Gardens

Imogen Dent
27 March 2013
Blog team: 
If you're planning a summer group trip, don't miss out on Kew's main highlights or the hidden delights.

Summer’s a great time to visit any garden, let alone one as large and full of interest as Kew. This year’s summer festival celebrates edible plants from around the world and looks set to add plenty of extra seasonal interest. As a keen foodie, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing what the planned Global Kitchen Garden will showcase. I’ll be writing more about this in a few weeks’ time.

A classic part of any summer garden is roses, and over the last few years I’ve been watching the Rose Garden here at Kew really get going. It was completely restored in 2009 and replanted to the original Victorian plans of William Nesfield. As the roses settle in and get bushier and sturdier the quantity of blooms has increased each year. Last summer, on a sunny day you could smell the perfume from a hundred metres away, even on the other side of a hedge taller than a man. All we need is a few more sunny days this year...

Photo of Waterlily House

The Waterlily House

Don’t miss the Waterlily House, Kew’s smallest and hottest glasshouse, where the fascinating giant waterlilies are grown. You can see a few of them in the picture above. By late summer when they’re fully grown, the lily pads can measure well over a metre across and apparently it’s true that they are strong enough to hold the weight of a small child. Around them in the tropical pool you’ll see a dozen or more other varieties of waterlilies from all over the world, as well as the beautiful sacred lotus from India, exotic food plants like rice and chillies, and Aristolochia vines with their weird hanging flowers.

As for the hidden gems; to start with, there’s always something beautiful to see in the Davies Alpine House and the surrounding Rock Garden. Another favourite area of mine is the secluded Mediterranean Garden, tucked in the lee of a mound midway between the Palm House and the Xstrata Treetop Walkway. The mound itself is crowned by King William’s Temple, one of the Gardens’ many old follies, and the slopes below it are planted with all the flora of a hillside in Italy or Greece. There are umbrella pines, cypresses, Spanish broom and cistus, and even a miniature olive grove...

Photo of the Mediterranean Garden

The Mediterranean Garden

For more peace and quiet, you can simply wander through the arboretum and pinetum and enjoy the shade on a hot day. This is the quieter end of the Gardens, so you may meet some of our resident wildlife such as the peacocks (often pretty vocal at this time of year). If you stroll along the lakeside you could see ducklings, goslings and cygnets feeding peacefully with their parents, and you might catch a glimpse of a kingfisher.

Photo of the Lake and Sackler Crossing

The Lake and Sackler Crossing

- Imogen -


More information about Group Visits



28 March 2013
Hi Elizabeth Thanks for your comment. If you click on the 'Print friendly' link just above this comment, it will print out the blog post, though you may have to adjust your settings to get a readable size. Enjoy your visit!
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27 March 2013
Thank you, some lovely ideas which we will definitely use. It would be good to have a print link for the blog as I would like to take it with us!
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