Longitudinal plan of Temperate House
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Plans and Plants: The making of the Temperate House

In celebration of the reopening of the Temperate House, come and examine Decimus Burton's original plans. You'll find out which plants were on show in 1863 and where in the world they came from. Until 16 September 2018.

Event details

Saturday 31 March to Sunday 16 September 2018

Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art


The largest plant house in the world

Designed by Decimus Burton, the Temperate House took nearly 40 years to complete. His materials, cast and wrought iron and glass, used the most modern technology of the time.

Botanical collecting expeditions had brought to Kew a wealth of new plants from all over the world. When the Temperate House first opened, the north octagon, a unique design in itself, was filled with bays, laurustinus, myrtles and clematis. The south octagon featured oranges and chrysanthemums. Beneath them were boilers for heating the whole structure.

In this behind-the-scenes exhibition, you'll see the original plans of the Temperate House. Covering 4,880 square metres, you'll see how the Temperate House is built to twice the size of the Palm House. These plans will show you how the five interlinked buildings were designed.

A global snapshot

The glasshouse was a place for people to connect to the flora and fauna from lands they may never have the opportunity to visit.

From the Americas, to southern Europe, the Canary Islands, Japan and New Zealand, twenty large beds were planted out with fine trees and succulent plants. 

These plans give a flavour of the diversity of plants that were originally on show and the parts of the world from which they came.