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Library, Art & Archives blog

Browse our blogs to find information about Kew's collections, services and fascinating work that is taking place. You will also meet the Library, Art and Archive staff who will provide regular updates with news from projects they are involved in, treasures they have discovered and exciting new developments planned for the future.
7th April 2017

Kew gardener and Panzer ‘ace’ met their fate together in Normandy

James Wearn reveals the long forgotten exploits of former Kew gardener, turned wartime tank driver, John Sutch and his link to Panzer ‘ace’ Michael Wittmann.

Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
31st March 2017

Joseph Hooker: Putting plants in their place

A new exhibition at Kew celebrates one of Victorian Britain's most important scientists, Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817–1911).

Title page taken from Hortus Eystettensis colour version
28th February 2017

The Garden of Eichstatt

Razwana Akram shares the fascinating story of the Garden of Eichstätt.

Fitch's completed Victoria regia plate
21st February 2017

Walter Hood Fitch - an 'incomparable botanical artist'

Lynn Parker looks at the story of Walter Hood Fitch (1817-1892), one of the most talented botanical artists of the 19th century.

A section of an illustration of Stanhopea wardii. Original drawing by S.A. Drake for Plate XX in John Lindley's Sertum Orchidaceum.
3rd February 2017

Miss Drake - a skilled illustrator of orchids

In celebration of Kew's Orchids Festival which returns this weekend, Julia Buckley looks at the orchid illustrations of Sarah-Ann Drake, a prolific 19th century artist we know little about.

Sketch of a penguin by Sir Joseph Hooker drawn on the Antarctic voyage
16th December 2016

A plant-hunter's Christmas

Francesca Mackenzie looks at stories from the archives about 'Christmases long, long ago', and discovers some surprising similarities with the festive season today.

Acer palmatum
12th December 2016

Flora Japonica – winter beauty in the Gardens

Japanese plants represented in the Flora Japonica exhibition can be seen growing in the Gardens at both Kew and Wakehurst.

Queen's Beasts outside Palm House
2nd December 2016

The Queen's Beasts

British monarchs have used beasts to symbolise their royal ancestry and family allegiances throughout history. Razwana Akram looks at the mythical beasts found at Kew and their meaning.

Portrait of Joseph Hooker by Wirgman
30th June 2016

199 today: Joseph Hooker's legacy

Today would be Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker's 199th birthday. Born on 30 June 1817, he became Director of Kew Gardens in 1865 and helped to shape Kew as we know it today: both behind the scenes, defining the function of Kew, and in the landscape and architecture of the gardens.

Bee on yellow flower
15th June 2016

The secret life of bees: the life and work of Eva Crane

As we celebrate the opening of The Hive at Kew Gardens, this week’s Library, Art and Archives blog takes a moment to look at the life and work of Eva Crane, one of the 20th century’s most influential apiculturalists.

Photo ofan illustration from Maria Sibylla Merian’s Neues Blumenbuch of 1675.
27th May 2016

Incredible insects: the life and work of Maria Sibylla Merian

This week’s blog looks at the life and work of Maria Sibylla Merian, pioneering female entomologist and botanical illustrator.

Showcase displaying Margaret Mee field sketches and photographs
20th May 2016

Margaret Mee - in pursuit of the moonflower cactus

Our current exhibition Brazil – a powerhouse of plants, at The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, features a series of Margaret Mee paintings of the rare moonflower cactus, documenting her intrepid exploration for this elusive flower across the Amazon.
Picture of Title page of Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris (John Parkinson, 1629).
29th April 2016

Plants in Shakespeare

On the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, we take a look at the influence of flowers and gardening in his works.

Photo of the BHL Partners at Kew
22nd April 2016

Digitisation on a global scale: BHL at 10

The Biodiversity Heritage Library has transformed the way scientists, researchers, and librarians around the world access knowledge about and study life on Earth. This year we are celebrating 10 years of the resource.

photo of pressed plant specimens
13th April 2016

Conserving William Cripps’s Hortus Siccus

Book Conservator, Sarai Vardi, discusses the conservation treatment of a large leather bound volume containing pressed plants.

Chatsworth House
6th April 2016

Kew Connections: Chatsworth and Kew

Archivist Louise delves into the historic connections between Kew and Chatsworth

Photo of the Royal coat of arms of the Elizabeth Gate
1st April 2016


The practice of heraldry has shown remarkable staying power. From ancient battle origins, it has evolved into a whole language of colours and symbols that are still used today to represent countries, families, and organisations.

An image of oak leaves and acorns from Kew <em>Quercus</em> spp. Masumi Yamanaka, Watercolour on paper. Private collection.
24th March 2016

A legacy of ancient oaks

A fascinating legacy of drawings was recently gifted to Kew from the Felix Dennis Estate, the first of which is now on display in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art.

Theobroma cacao (cocoa tree)
18th March 2016

Food of the gods: a brief history of chocolate

As Easter approaches we look at the history of chocolate and the role Kew has played in the spread of the cocoa bean.

Photo of Erythrina tomentosa painting
11th March 2016

The marvellous achievements of Marianne Mason

The artist Marianne Mason had a diverse range of talents. Her work with plants in Africa became of great interest to Kew, but this was only part of her remarkable life.