Holly berries at Kew
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Meet the experts guided tour

Meet Kew's horticultural and science staff and find out about their work behind the scenes. December tours will focus on festive favourites holly and ivy. Tuesday 4, 11 and 18 December 2018 at 11.30am.

Event details

Tuesday 4, 11 and 18 December 2018 at 11.30am. Tour lasts about 90 minutes.

Meet at the Information desk (by Victoria Plaza café) at 11.15am. 


Included with entry to the Gardens.
Reserve your spot at any entry gate from 10am on the day
Save on the price of your Gardens ticket when you book online

Tour overview

During the guided tour you'll meet Kew's knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff and visit areas of the Gardens not normally seen by the public. You'll gain an insight into different aspects of work that Kew undertakes in areas of science, horticulture and conservation.

  • Tours will be mainly outside, but you may be taken to different areas behind the scenes at Kew.
  • All locations are wheelchair accessible.
  • Maximum of 15 people per tour.

Get your tour ticket from any entry gate from 10am on the day of the tour.

Holly berries at Kew

Ivy: a rampant evergreen

Ivy (Hedera helix) is a species of flowering plant in the family Araliaceae, native to most of Europe and western Asia. 

A rampant evergreen vine, it can grow 30m high where surfaces such as trees and walls are available for it to climb up. This clever plant is helped by its adhesive aerial roots, which allow it to cling on and grow up vertical surfaces. 

Although not the most flamboyant plant, ivy flowers provide a great source of nectar for insects, particularly in months when there aren't many options. The berries are also a tasty source of winter food for hungry birds. 

Ivy at Kew: Nicholas Hind

30 species of holly at Kew

Holly is an evergreen shrub or tree - some species have the spiked, glossy leaves that holly is often known for. The distinctive holly berry is toxic to humans, but is a nutritious source of sustenence for birds and other animals.

Although us humans can't eat the berries, two species of holly (Ilex paraguariensis and Ilex vomitoria) contain caffeine and are used to make a tasty tea in parts of North and South America. 

There are more than 30 different species of holly growing at Kew, which is home to one of Europe's most comprehensive holly collections. Wander down our stunning Holly Walk, which was planted in 1874 by Sir Joseph Hooker and showcases many of these different species. 

The Kew Herbarium also houses a large collection of holly specimens, including more than 300 type specimens from 89 different countries. A type specimen is the original specimen on which a plant name is based, and is therefore an invaluable resource for botanists. 

Join our expert tour and find out more cool facts about these festive superstars.