Using botanic gardens to inform and inspire
Informing and inspiring visitors is one of the main themes underlying Kew’s work as a botanic garden. Having amassed a wealth of scientific, botanical and horticultural knowledge in its 250 year history, Kew shares its passion for plant and fungal life with visitors to the Gardens everyday.
The Palm House parterre had a South Africa landscape theme in 2010.
One of Kew's key aims is to inspire and inform visitors to the Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst on a daily basis, be they members of the public who come to Kew for a relaxing day out, researchers who come to consult its unrivalled Herbarium collections, or schoolchildren on an official educational visit. We want to pass on our passion for plant and fungal life and share the urgent message about why we need to value and conserve the world’s plants.
Exploring the Gardens
Interpretation throughout the Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst helps visitors learn about the unique characteristics, history and conservation status of the plants they encounter. Information is delivered in many ways, with outdoor computer touch-screens, solar-powered push-button panels, child-sized models of flowers you can play inside and hundreds of colourful interpretation boards.
World class attractions
High up on the Xstrata Treetop Walkway, cast bronze plaques display fascinating facts, as well as enabling visitors to touch and feel textures of different tree parts. Down below, in the Rhizotron, animated videos reveal snapshots of life among the tree roots, where beetles and worms thrive. Meanwhile, close to the Victoria Gate entrance, an annotated ‘walk-on’ map attracts visitors to journey through the multitude of projects Kew is involved with around the world.
Inspiring our visitors - from children to adults
Visitors wishing to learn more about a vast array of botanical subjects, can take advantage of plentiful opportunities for more structured learning. For those of school age, Kew offers a programme of themed school visits that link botany to many curriculum subjects. Children can learn about history by inspecting plants brought back by Victorian collectors, hone their artistic skills by studying paintings in the Marianne North and Shirley Sherwood Galleries and learn how maths underpins many natural processes, by examining the shapes and numbers exhibited in plant forms. Some 86,000 schoolchildren attend school trips to Kew every year.
Adults can participate in an equally wide array of talks and courses at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst Place. Activities range from guided evening badger-vewing walks in the Loder Valley Reserve at Wakehurst, to courses on orchid-growing for beginners, and practical sessions on how to make garden seats from living willow plants. Behind-the-scenes tours illustrating Kew’s science, conservation, horticulture, history and architecture are on offer at various times during the year.
Learning at Kew
Kew's education and community and outreach programmes invite a wide range of audiences to experience the Gardens and share their passion with plants with us. The small temple-like structure that currently stands close to Climbers and Creepers was created as a ‘Temple of the Imagination’ by four groups of people working together: ladies from Asian women’s groups around London, special-needs schoolchildren and adults, members of the UK Disabled Photographers Society and local A-level art students. Kew often uses art to draw people into science. For example, the Big Draw is an annual special event at which invited artists and Kew scientists work with plants in the Gardens to inspire children and adults to find out more and create their own artworks.
For those who really catch the gardening bug and decide to make a career of horticulture, the Kew Diploma is the equivalent of a degree. Founded a century and a half ago, the course teaches students all aspects of horticulture, from the anatomy of plants to amenity landscaping. All students have to plant and tend to their own vegetable patch without using any fertilisers or pesticides. Information about each student and their aspirations is written on interpretation boards at the end of each of their plots. This means other visitors to Kew can also learn about the upcoming generation of horticulturalists, many of whom will go on to work at Kew and help shape the future of the world’s foremost botanical garden.
Help Kew look after the Gardens
By giving a donation today, you can help us look after our stunning gardens for future generations to experience and enjoy. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, Kew is the guardian of two stunning Gardens. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in Surrey and Wakehurst, West Sussex, the home of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.
Kew’s history is also interwoven with royal heritage, outstanding garden design and world class scientific endeavours. Find out where your money goes.
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Used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of the Kalahari as a medicinal plant, devil's claw is now also used in Western medicine.