9 June 2023

10 things to do at Wakehurst this summer

Longer, sunnier days are here! Why not spend them in the biodiverse setting of Wakehurst?

By Jessica Hayne

A grassy path through pine trees

Admire spectacular art across the landscape, experience the gardens after hours, and discover a world of biodiversity. 

1. Uncover the power of trees  

This summer, we’re celebrating one of the world’s most recognisable and loved plants – trees.  

We’re working with some incredible artists to create bespoke outdoor installations for you to enjoy across our landscape.

There’ll be fun for all the family, as children can complete our Tree Champion trail to gain their next Nature Heroes badge or test their bravery with activities such as tree climbing and zip wiring.  

Book Rooted now

Illustation showing trees and people enjoying the outdoors
Rooted © RBG Kew

2. Journey to Planet Wakehurst

Created by Australian artist Catherine Nelson, Planet Wakehurst is a celebration of biodiversity on a scale like no other.  

Our newest art installation is unmissable, so step back and take in each and every detail.  

Giant artwork on the facade of a mansion, featuring a collage of plants and trees.
Planet Wakehurst, Visual Air © RBG Kew

3. Venture into the Wild Wood 

Brand new to the gardens, Wild Wood is a treasure trove of woven delights. From foxes to faces, deer to dormice, see if you can spot them all.  

Each sculpture has been hand-crafted and woven using natural materials to celebrate the relationship between us and our biodiverse world.  

A woven owl sculpture in a tree
Wild Wood, Jim Holden © RBG Kew
A woman walks past woven badger sculptures
Wild Wood, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

4. Play your part in pollinator research 

Ever wanted to be a scientist for the day?

This summer, our Nature Unlocked research is bringing science to you, as our experts investigate the best trees for bees.

Help us by carrying out pollinator counts on selected trees throughout the summer and play a role in this ground-breaking study. 

Keep an eye on our online platforms to find out more.

A bumble bee on a flower
Bumblebee, Seb Kettley © RBG Kew

5. Marvel at our summer showstoppers 

No two summers are the same at Wakehurst, and whilst the temperatures start to creep up, we’re excited to see which areas across the landscape will take centre stage this summer. 

Venture into the Water Gardens for a lush tapestry of foliage and take a moment to pause on the The Slips boardwalk or in the Iris Dell, for a relaxing soundtrack of gentle trickling water.  

Continue down Westwood Valley, discover our towering Rhododendron shrubs, and enjoy the dappled shade around Westwood Lake and the Wetlands – the perfect picnic spot.  

And don’t miss Coronation Meadow, a spectacular undulating landscape with unmissable views of the Sussex High Weald, transporting you away from the hustle and bustle of life.  

A drone shot of Coronation meadow grassland, looking towards trees in the distance.
Coronation Meadow, Visual Air © RBG Kew
Irises in the foreground, and in the background a boardwalk over a pond.
Iris Dell, Visual Air © RBG Kew

6. Become a prairie species-spotting expert 

Our American Prairie is an unmissable, six-acre grassland, right in the heart of our gardens.  

Whilst in previous years the prairie has been a dazzling sea of yellow, we’re expecting more diversity this summer, as a variety of different species come into bloom.  

Look out for delicate yellow golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), the spiky foliage of rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) or the white petals of foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis

Harder-to-spot species include late-blooming smooth-leaved aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) on the Atlantic coastal plain beds, small spiderwort (Tradescantia) and the western sunflower 
 (Helianthus occidentalis).  

Smooth leaved aster, small purple flowers surrounded by foliage
Aster, Jess Hayne © RBG Kew
Round, spikey heads of Rattlesnake master plant
Rattlesnake master, Jess Hayne © RBG Kew

7. Delight in delicious summer treats  

Start your day at Seeds Café, a dog-friendly venue offering a wide array of fresh, seasonal ingredients and plenty of plant-based options.  

Indulge in modern, locally-sourced dishes at the Stables Kitchen, while the Stables Pantry tempts you with grab-and-go French patisserie-style treats. And don't miss the soft scoop ice cream van for a refreshing sweet delight. 

Did someone say cronut? This mouth-watering medley of a doughnut and croissant is the perfect reward for a day’s adventure. 

A dog licks a doggy ice cream from a tub
Dog treats, Visual Air © RBG Kew
A woman reaches down and grabs a water bottle from a drinks fridge.
Refreshments at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

8. Let little legs run wild 

Our family-favourite Tree Trunk Trek has reopened with a refreshed look, and children can now enjoy messy play at the Mud Kitchen all year round.  

Pick up a map when you arrive and see how many of our wild play spaces you can tick off.  

Two girls climb across a wooden activity trail.
Tree Trunk Trek, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

9. Shop world-class collections 

We’ve recently expanded our Plant Centre to include more collections and inspiration for you.  

That flower that you couldn’t stop taking pictures of? That tree with the fascinating foliage? Find it in the Plant Centre and bring it back to your garden.

You don’t need a garden entry ticket to visit the Plant Centre. Benefit from 45 minutes free parking and enjoy a bit of retail therapy.

And don’t forget – members get 10% off!  

A woman picks up a tree in a plant po.
Wakehurst Plant Centre, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

10. Learn the art of reiki, willow weaving or charcoal making 

Throughout summer, our range of workshops offer you the chance to learn a new skill, have fun with friends or gift someone an unforgettable experience.  

Browse through our workshops and book your place today

The sun shines on a forest floor covered with ferns.
Forest bathing at Wakehurst © RBG Kew
A grassy path through pine trees

Visit Wakehurst

Explore our wild botanic garden in the heart of Sussex, home to the Millennium Seed Bank, over 500 acres of diverse landscapes and plants from across the globe.

Read & watch