Natural Area at Kew > Kew Gardens > Attractions > Natural Area

Natural Area

Kew’s Natural Area covers 37 acres and was given to Kew on the understanding that it should be left in a wild, natural state. In this area you will find a woodland walk, children's natural play area and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage.

An area left to grow wild

Queen Victoria wished for these grounds to be left in a wild, natural state. Although some changes have taken place in the intervening years, these wishes have been largely granted.

Around 185 trees have been planted over the decades, along with lilies, snowdrops, primroses and narcissi. In springtime the grounds of Queen Charlotte's Cottage are covered in bluebells and wild garlic.

British trees, including oak, beech, holly and yew can be found there, as well as a few rarities like the Plymouth pear (Pyrus cordata) and the Bristol mountain ash.

Traditional woodland management practices are used. 'Coronet pruning' gives a jagged top to dead trees so that insects can hide in the nooks and crannies.

The Natural Area can be reached from other parts of the Gardens on the Kew Explorer land train.

The area round Queen's Charlotte's Cottage in spring

The area round Queen Charlotte's Cottage in spring.

Take a woodland walk

Woodland Walk is a raised trail taking you through the Natural Area and giving you a view of the wildlife without disturbing the natural habitat. On your walk you may see butterflies, dragonflies or damselflies dancing through wildflowers.

Kew regularly monitors fauna and flora in the Gardens. There are 40 resident bird species plus 30 seasonal visitors, 23 species of butterflies and nine species of dragonfly. There are also 400 native and naturalised wild flowers. In spring, native bluebells, wild garlic and snowdrops colour the ground.

At the beginning of the trail there are bug hotels where ladybirds, centipedes, beetles, spiders or other creatures can often be found looking for a place to stay.

Bug hotels in the Natural Area

Bug hotels in the Natural Area.

Children's natural play areas

Life-sized badger sett

Become a badger for the day in our life-sized badger sett. The tunnels are at least a metre high with one tunnel large enough for wheelchairs. Go through the giant entrances into a warren of tunnels that connect the food stores, sleeping chambers and nests.

Badger sett at Kew

A life-sized badger sett.

Log Trail

Test your balancing skills as you hop and skip across this natural log trail winding its way through the trees. The trail is made from storm felled trees that have been put to use as a fun outdoor play area. Trees included in the trail are beech, ash, oak, eucalyptus and pine.

A child balancing on the log trail

The children's log trail made from naturally fallen trees.

Giant picnic table

Feel like Alice in Wonderland while you eat your lunch at this giant picnic table where your feet won’t touch the ground!

Giant picnic table in the Natural Area

Giant picnic table - an ideal spot to stop for your lunch.

Woodland House

The Woodland House is an innovative, accessible and family-friendly space used for workshops and temporary exhibitions. The design was inspired by the shape of a copse of trees on a distant hilltop.

Woodland House

A treehouse in the woods.

Queen Charlotte's cottage

Visit the cottage on weekends and bank holidays during spring and summer to see where Queen Charlotte and her family had picnics during their time at Kew. 

Photo of the Picnic Room, Queen Charlotte's Cottage, Kew. Copyright Historic Royal Palaces

The picnic room in Queen Charlotte's Cottage.

Stag Beetle Loggery

An area of fallen trees left to decay to attract globally endangered stag beetles. You're most likely to to see the beetles in late spring when the adults emerge from the larvae.

Stag beetle loggery