Temperate House
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11 things you didn't know about the Temperate House

We have thrown open the doors to the world’s largest glasshouse after five years of painstaking restoration. Here are 11 little-known facts behind the beautiful façade.
5 April 2018
Blog team: 
Meryl Westlake

Did you know?

1. We used a tent structure large enough to cover three Boeing 747s to enclose the Temperate House.

2. Blue tits have often nested in the electric horn installed for air-raid warnings during World War II.

(We have also welcomed house sparrows, blackbirds, robins, hedge sparrows, wrens, chaffinches, song thrushes, starlings and even a tawny owl).

3. The original building used green glass to stop the scorching impact from the sun- but it didn’t work!

4. 5,280 litres of paint was used in this restoration, enough to cover four football pitches.

5. In 1950, the Chilean wine palm fruited and flowered for the first time- 100 years after the original seeds were collected in Chile.

6. This restoration will take 1,731 days to complete.

7. The Strelitzia, or birds of paradise flower was first introduced to Europe in 1773 by Kew’s earliest plant collector, Francis Masson. You can see three species of it in the glasshouse today.

8. 45 miles of draught excluder were used in reconstruction during the 1970’s.  

9. William Hooker (director of Kew 1841-1865) never saw the finished Temperate House. He died two years before the completion of his grand project.

10. The scaffolding required over the five years was equivalent to the length of M25.

11. There are around 10,000 plants from 1,500 species in the restored Temperate House including some of the rarest and most threatened on earth.

Book your ticket to visit the greatest glasshouse on earth this summer.

Temperate House interior
Camellia Pitardii
A facade on the Temperate House