Secret World of Plants

Rediscover the natural world and delight in its secret details with our summer series of immersive experiences.

Secret World of Plants illustration

Date and time

1 May – 19 September 2021


Throughout the Gardens


Included with your entry ticket

Discover the hidden secrets of the plant world with unique art installations across the Gardens at our summer festival.

Explore the UK’s plants and landscapes up close through Vaughn Bell's 'Plantscapes' or the peaceful 'Please be Seated' by Paul Cocksedge.

Immerse yourself in the musical compositions of Jason Singh's 'Extinction Songs' and Alex Metcalfe's 'Tree Listening'.

Or why not admire the Secret World of Plants with the whole family on our bespoke trail?


Vaughn Bell

Get up close to our native UK plant world in a series of unique large-scale installations by acclaimed artist Vaughn Bell that will begin to pop up across the Gardens from early May onwards.

You'll get to explore our overlooked native plant habitats in a series of six immersive structures, from native meadows and hedgerows to sand dunes and woodland.

Pop your head into the viewing holes and you'll see these incredible environments, specially curated together with our world-renowned team of horticultural experts, from a whole new perspective.

Aerial view of moorland plantscape at Kew
Plantscape by Vaughn Bell © RBG Kew

Tree Listening

Alex Metcalf

Please note, we are currently experiencing technical problems with the Tree Listening Project. We hope to have these resolved soon and apologise for any inconvenience. 

Think trees don't make a sound? Think again. 

Stand beneath one of the suspended sound domes along our Syon Vista and listen to the inner workings as water moves up through the trees.

Four majestic oaks will have sound domes suspended in their branches offering a variety of tree noises and specially commissioned classical music composed by Carol Jones, giving visitors a unique insight into the movements of a tree throughout the day. 

Visitor enjoying Alex Metcalf's sound domes at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
'Tree Listening' by Alex Metcalf © RBG Kew

Extinction Songs

Jason Singh

Sound artist, beatboxer and composer Jason Singh takes over the Temperate House with a fascinating look at ‘plants as composer’.

Environmental factors such as light, sound and temperature all provide naturally occurring ‘biodata’ generated from plants. It is this biodata that Jason uses to create a musical score, using technology to record the plants' 'voice' as a beautifully melancholic soundtrack.

Across festival weekends, we have invited musicians to perform alongside the live recording, allowing the plant to not only become the musician but also the composer. 

See Jason Singh perform

Jason will perform Extinction Songs alongside a musician in the incredible setting of the Temperate House.

30 May

13 & 27 June

14, 15, 21, 22, 28 August*

*Please note: Unfortunately Jason won’t be performing on 21 and 22 August due to COVID reasons. Instead, he will perform on 28 August with Alya al-Sultani.

Performances at 11:30, 1pm and 2:30pm

Space at this performance is limited in line with social distancing measures. Attendance is freely allocated at the Temperate House on a first come, first serve basis. Arrive in advance for a chance to be included.

Sound artist Jason Singh crouches in the Temperate House with his laptop as he produces his music.
Jason Singh's Extinction Songs in the Temperate House © Underhill Creative

Please be Seated

Paul Cocksedge

Take in the beauty of the Gardens from a different perfective with the monumental and playful seating installation by architectural designer Paul Cocksedge.

The design is a rippling wave of wood that rises to form arches for you to walk through, and curves under to create spaces for you to sit, lie, and relax.

Visitor enjoying the 'Please Be Seated' installation at The Secret World of Plants Festival
Please be Seated by Paul Cocksedge © RBG Kew

Family trail 

Follow our family trail to discover the Secret World of Plants! 

Listen to the mysterious sounds of water moving inside trees, hunt for different plants hiding in the Plantscapes around the Gardens, and learn what you can do to help plants and wildlife flourish in your area. 

You can pick up a guide to the family trail when you arrive at the Gardens to start your adventure. 

Child on a family activity at Kew
A family activity at Kew © RBG Kew

Saturday Science Family Learning Workshop

Venue: The Tepee Tents (next to White Peaks)*

Every Saturday 11am - 4pm throughout the summer holidays until 4 September 2021.

Join our family learning workshops to explore plant adaptations and take an up-close look at some unusual plants.

You can pick up a family learning card and activity sheet before you head into the Gardens to learn more about the ways plants have learnt to adapt to their environment, or download a learning card here

The workshops will run as drop-in sessions and are free of charge with entry to the Gardens. 

*Please note: On Saturday 14 August 2021 this event will take place in the Davies Exploration House (behind the Temperate House).

A girl in a yellow coat enjoys Pollinator Day at Kew Gardens

Supported by Starling Bank

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