Kew exhibited a living grass collection as far back as the early 19th century.
Grass Garden with Princess of Wales Conservatory in the background (Image: Michelle Cleave)
Did you know?
- Kew scientists are currently investigating the use of the popular ornamental plant Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis) as an alternative fuel source.
- You can see a range of bamboos, which are members of the grass family, in the Bamboo Garden located around the Japanese Minka House on the western side of Kew.
About the Grass Garden
The present grass garden, located between the Duke’s Garden and the Davies Alpine House, was created in 1982 to showcase some of the world’s 9,000 species of grass. They are some of the world’s most economically important plants, providing us with cereals such as wheat, rice and barley to eat, as well as cattle fodder. Grasses form the basis for many alcoholic drinks and are widely used around the globe for creating structures and providing thatch for buildings.
Scientists estimate that grasses make up 20 per cent of the Earth’s vegetation. Kew’s display contains some 550 species and the collection is still growing. Specimens range from delicate clumps of feathery Hordeum hystrix to tall stands of the Korean feather reed grass Calamagrostis brachytricha. Increasingly, grasses are being used as sources of renewable energy. For example, sugar cane is widely used to make ethanol to power road vehicles in Brazil. In 2008, Brazil produced 24 billion litres of fuel in this way.
The grasses are cut back in February and this is when clumps are divided and replanted. By early summer they are in full growth and beginning to flower. It is from late summer and on into winter that the Grass Garden looks its best, with feathery seedheads that catch the light of the low sun and leaves turning shades of yellow and bronze.
Things to look out for
The sculpture 'A Sower', depicting a man flinging seed, stands in the Grass Garden. It was cast by Hamo Thornycroft in 1886 and presented to Kew by the Royal Academy of Arts. Its pedestal was designed by Sir Edwn Lutyens and A Drury.
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The temperate house at Kew Gardens, London
Lake, Kew Gardens
European Robin (Erithacus Rubecula), Kew Gardens
Temperate House from Xstrata Treetop Walkway, Kew Gardens
Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis, Kew Gardens
Rough-Leaf Fig (Ficus Hispida), Kew Gardens
Giant Rhubarb (Gunnera Manicata), Kew Gardens
Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria Holostea), Kew Gardens
Magnolia 'Iolanthe', Kew Gardens
Queen's Garden from Kew Palace
Gregor Mendel Saxifrage (Saxifraga x.Apiculata), Kew Gardens
We invite photographers to capture the sights at Kew and Wakehurst. These images are a selection of images submitted by photographers from around the world. We hope you enjoy them. You can see more on Flickr.