Holly tree covered in ivy
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Meet the experts guided tours

Meet Kew's horticultural and science staff and find out about their work behind the scenes. December's tours will be all about holly and ivy. Every Tuesday at 11.30am (except 26 Dec).

Event details

Tuesdays at 11.30am, tour lasts about 90 minutes (except 26 Dec)
Meet at the Information desk (by Victoria Plaza café) at 11.15am, max 15 people per tour

Included with entry price to the GardensSave on the price of your 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.

Depending on the featured plant or fungus the tour could include a visit to the Jodrell Laboratory, the Herbarium or one of our Nurseries. You'll see how Kew's research can be used to help people across the globe, for example with re-forestation or finding alternative crops for farming in remote areas.

Tours will be mainly outside, but you may be taken to different areas behind the scenes at Kew. All locations are wheelchair accessible.

Holly and ivy

Both holly (Ilex) and ivy (Hedera) are traditionally associated with Christmas and used to decorate homes during the festive season. 

Holly plants are either male or female, and while both flower, only the female plants provide the characteristic berries.

The flowers and berries of the mature ivy are an important source of food for insects and birds, particularly in months when there are few other options.

Holly at Kew

In 1874 an avenue of different hollies was planted along Love Lane which ran between two estates. These estates were later joined together to make the Gardens as it exists today. Now known as Holly Walk, this area is home to one of Europe's most comprehensive holly collections.

Specimens of holly in Kew's collections

The Kew Herbarium houses a large collection of Ilex specimens, an invaluable resource for botanists.

The Economic Botany Collection contains more than 200 different artefacts made from Ilex bark, leaves and wood.

Holly Walk in winter

Ivy at Kew

Ivy can be found growing all around the Gardens with a particularly striking display against the wall behind the Plant Family Beds.

Specimens of ivy in Kew's collections

The Herbarium contains a collection of different types of ivy that were collected in 1820s by botanist Nathaniel Wallich.

Ivy in flower

January's tours

Join us in January to find out more about the snowdrop (Galanthus).