Unprecedented access to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in a year like no other for a new four-part TV series on Channel 5

Release date: 30 April 2021

  • ‘Kew Gardens: A Year in Bloom’ launches on Channel 5 on Thursday 13 May at 8pm
  • Featuring four, one-hour long episodes filmed at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex
  • Includes never before seen footage of the gardens during closure in the spring of 2020 and behind-the-scenes access to expert staff from RBG Kew’s world-leading horticulture and science

A new four-part TV series will launch on Channel 5 on Thursday 13 May 2021 at 8pm, following the work of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  Filmed at both Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, this series takes viewers behind the scenes, giving a glimpse of what makes Kew so special, in a year unlike any other. From the ground-breaking science, to the future-proofing botany, and the exceptional staff, the series provides a special insight into the wonder of the plants themselves, and how Kew’s employees maintain, study, and protect one of the most diverse collections on the planet.

Channel 5 were granted unprecedented access to film across both Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, for the first time, in what turned out to be an extraordinary year. And had special permission to film behind the scenes during lockdown. The series features four, one-hour long episodes, with stories told across each of the four seasons. It follows the day to day work, trials and joys of the horticulture team caring for Kew’s valuable living collections and features behind-the-scenes access to some of Kew’s 350 scientists researching pollination, finding critical solutions to Ash dieback disease killing our ash trees, and searching the world for future foods to feed a growing population of a heating planet.


The series opens with ‘Winter’ and takes viewers to the banana plants in the iconic Palm House having a much-needed trim before they hit the glass roof, and visits the set-up for the 25th annual, and wonderfully vibrant, winter festival, Orchids.  Kew scientist, Dr James Borrell, shares his research into enset, the plant dubbed the ‘tree against hunger’ providing the staple food for 20 million Ethiopians.  We also visit Kew Gardens’ 14,000 trees, planted in family groups, each with their own story to tell, being cared for by Kew’s gravity defying Tree Gang. The episode concludes with an unexpected closure of Kew Gardens as Storm Ciara sweeps in.


The ‘Spring’ episode provides a rare behind-the-scenes look into the preparation for the annual display in the Waterlily House, which sees the glasshouse go from empty to bursting point. At Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, the focus is on its next big project: The American Prairie, and we follow the team as they prepare to sow the first seeds in this new landscape. The episode also features the world-famous Millennium Seed Bank in Wakehurst, the botanical Fort Knox that safeguards billions of the world’s seeds, as it marks its 20th year. 


The ‘Summer’ episode finds the Temperate House staff preparing the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse before it reopens to summer visitors. The Tropical Nursery team shows viewers how staff painstakingly hand-pollinate orchids, and we learn more about pollination from Kew scientist’s Dr Hauke Koch and Professor Phil Stevenson. The episode revisits the Waterlily House team staying up late for a rare midnight bloom and reveals more about the design for the spectacular Broad Walk Borders at Kew Gardens. A visit to Wakehurst explores the team’s work to combat Ash Dieback, which is threatening the survival of ash trees across the UK and Europe. The episode concludes with the set-up of the first event of the summer at Kew Gardens, the Summer Cycle, which hangs in the balance as thunderstorms encroach.


The ‘Autumn’ episode visits the Kitchen Garden at Kew Gardens as produce is harvested for onsite restaurants, and viewers learn more about how scientists at RBG Kew are collecting wild relatives of major food crops to help ensure their survival. We visit Wakehurst to see conservation grazing in action, which features some very skilful and entertaining herding of the resident flock of sheep across the Gardens. The Alpine team at Kew Gardens share a behind-the-scenes insight as they care for the 7,000 strong Alpine bulb collection. As the winter winds hit Kew Gardens, viewers see how the Tree Gang tackles one of their toughest challenges yet, as they remove a fallen tree from the lake.

“This year has been incredibly difficult for many visitor attractions, and we have most definitely felt this at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Watching this life-affirming series has reminded me of the many fabulous moments during 2020 which has been so dominated by the global pandemic. I am very proud to see how this new TV series shines a light on our staff and the important work they do to care for our collections and the vital research they undertake. They really are the backbone of our glorious organisation.” Richard Deverell, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Filmed by Curve Productions for Channel 5, the series was commissioned in 2019 and filming took place from January to October 2020.


For more information, please contact pr@kew.org or press@channel5.com

About the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections 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 and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s

Wild Botanic Garden, attract over 2.5 million visits every year. Kew Gardens was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 260th anniversary in 2019. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support RBG Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.