17 September 2020
Best things to do at Kew this autumn
From Gruffalo adventures to beautiful art, there's plenty to do with the whole family at Kew Gardens this autumn.
The gardens have come alive with the rich colours of autumn.
Get outside this season, breathe in the fresh air and spot our autumnal highlights.
Go on a Gruffalo trail
Head to Kew Gardens for a fun-filled family day out this October half-term.
Pick up a trail pack and set off for a day of adventure. Figure out clues along the way and follow footprints and feathers through our Arboretum. Keep an eye out for the Gruffalo himself outside the Marianne North Gallery...
Our Arboretum stretches across two-thirds of the Gardens, and is home to 14,000 trees of more than 2,000 species.
Spot our ancient hero trees, some of which date back to the 18th century and include the Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum), the Lucombe oak (Quercus x hispanica 'Lucombeana'), and the black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia).
See amazing art
See our stunning new exhibition Paradise Lost by acclaimed artist Jan Hendrix.
The exhibition is inspired by the landscape of Kamay Botany Bay, Australia, which was once a pristine bay teeming with endemic flora and fauna. Almost 250 years later, it's virtually unrecognisable.
From a vast tapestry to a beautiful mirrored pavilion at the centre of the show, Jan examines the fragility of the natural world and humanity's impact on the environment.
Collected over 30 years from many parts of the world, it highlights cultivated favourites and native plants from the UK, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Poland and the US.
There is a majestic bromeliad from Rio de Janiero's mountains as well as tiny flowers like the speedwell, magnified and dissected to show its delicate beauty.
Bask in autumn colour
Head to our Arboretum for a beautiful display of autumn colour.
From vibrant maple trees to majestic oaks, see the woodland come alive with fiery shades of scarlet, burnt orange and yellow.
Leaves turn a different colour in the autumn due to hormonal changes in the tree, triggered by the longer nights as the summer comes to an end.
Different trees turn different colours because of varying compounds in the leaves. The exact mixture of compounds varies between species, so the degree of yellow or red colour in the leaves is different.
Discover the secret life of bees
Step inside the world of bees in The Hive.
At a towering 17 metres tall, The Hive is a striking installation and recreates life inside a beehive. It was designed by UK based artist Wolfgang Buttress as a tribute to Britain's honeybees.
Pollinators are fundamental to the lifecycle of our plants. Bees are particularly interesting as they do interesting things to keep our plants and flowers blooming.
Did you know that bees can dance?
To let other bees know about a lucrative patch of pollen to other bees, they perform ‘round dances’ and ‘waggle dances’.
The dances help the colony be more efficient, encouraging them to channel their energies towards the more nutritious areas of ground.
Explore a new landscape
Head to Wakehurst and explore our gardens in the heart of the Sussex countryside.
Our sister site is the home of beautiful woodland, rolling hills and rare plants like the wollemi pine.
- Smell the brown leaves of the candyfloss tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) for that sweet, fairground smell.
- Meet our incredible redwoods in Horsebridge Wood. These resilient giants have fire resistant bark and live for thousands of years.
- Spot the Golden Larch (Pseudolarix Amabilis), also known as ‘the Halloween Tree’, because the flame coloured branches turn the colour of Jack-o-lanterns.
Spot birds and wildlife
Birds love our gardens, from small feathery blue tits to tall wading birds.
Listen out for the 'tap, tap, tap' of woodpeckers in the trees. Great spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) have distinctive white and black speckled feathers and red tail feathers.
Woodpeckers use their powerful beaks to drum into trees. They create holes for nesting and to find tasty grubs, which they snatch out of bark with their long tongues.
Look out for majestic grey herons around the lake. They can be spotted standing stock still at the waters edge, as they hunt for fish and amphibians.
Head to Wakehurst to spot owls. It's home to three species of owl: the tawny owl (Strix aluco), the barn owl (Tyto alba) and the little owl (Athene noctua). Little owls grow to just 20cm in height and are the smallest owls in the UK.