The Lake was created in 1856 in an area being excavated to provide gravel for terracing the new Temperate House. Underground channels were created to connect the Lake with the Thames, and it was filled for the first time in 1861. The Lake is five acres of water, studded with four islands.
The four islands are planted to provide vibrant colours in autumn, emphasised by their reflection in the lake. Chinese tupelo trees (Nyssa sinensis) turn deep red, while black tupelo trees (Nyssa sylvatica) turn red, orange and yellow.
The lake and its surrounds are inhabited by wildlife such as the red-crested pochard, tufted duck, widgeon and mandarin duck.
The Sackler Crossing, installed in 2006, gives easy access to some of Kew’s less visited areas.
The black granite walkway carries visitors low over the water along a curving path that mimics the lake’s rounded banks. Its walls are a series of vertical, flat bronze posts. On approaching the bridge, these give the appearance of forming a solid wall but when viewed sideways on they appear almost invisible.
Nearby sits the bronze sculpture 'Reclining Mother and Child' (1975-76) by Henry Moore. Having his works displayed within a natural setting was crucial to Moore’s vision.
The sculpture is one of three large scale bronzes which combine two of his favourite subjects; the mother and child and the reclining figure.
This work explores the relationship between a small form and a large one; the mother and child, with the reclining female form suggesting the sinuous shapes of the rolling countryside in contrast to the angular abstracted child which sits upright.
This sculpture was part of the exhibition Henry Moore at Kew Gardens in 2007, and returned to Kew in 2014. Through the seasons, the surrounding ash and alder trees create a constantly changing backdrop for this work.