10 February 2020

In pictures: Best spots to photograph at Kew Gardens

From stunning vistas to tropical glasshouses, these are the most striking spots to take photos at Kew Gardens.

By Ellen McHale

Grass Garden

Kew Gardens is a photography paradise.

With an array of vibrant plants and serene landscapes, there's a photo opportunity around every corner.

Here are the top seven places to visit with your camera in tow. 

The Palm House

Lush with dense vegetation, the Palm House was built between 1844 and 1848 and is still at the heart of the Gardens. It's home to some of our most treasured plants, many of which are endangered in the wild and some even extinct. 

It offers a hot and humid environment for tropical plants to flourish, and is the perfect place to photograph an array of green tones and textures. 

It looks best on a sunny day when shafts of light shine through the humid air, adding an air of mystery to your snaps. 

Be warned, your lens may fog up with the temperature change so give your camera time to adjust. 

Inside the Palm House
Inside the Palm House, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

The lake 

A favourite chill out spot for our resident ducks, geese, and moorhens, our serene lake is best for photos of birds and flowers on the water's edge.  

Look out for the beautiful yellow star-shaped flowers of the Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas). The tree puts on a colourful display throughout the year, as it bears bright, glossy red berries during the summer too. 

A close up of a duck
Mallard duck at the lake, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
Cornelian cherry by the lake
Cornelian cherry, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

Princess of Wales Conservatory 

Travel through a series of fascinating ecosystems in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. From formidable carnivorous plants to towering cacti, this glasshouse offers a variety of textures and shapes for your photos. 

Keep an eye out for varied textures and patterns in this glasshouse. Watch out for the prickles and spikes of cacti in the dry zone, soft floaty ferns in the fern zone, and striking leaf patterns in the tropical areas. 

Cacti in the Princess of Wales Conservatory
Cacti in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
Ferns in the Princess of Wales Conservatory
Ferns in the Princess of Wales Conservatory, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
Prayer plant, Princess of Wales Conservatory
Prayer plant, Princess of Wales Conservatory Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

Between 8 February to 8 March 2020, capture a rainbow of colours at our annual orchid festival.

Back with exotic displays to celebrate the wonders of Indonesia, see a beautiful array of vivid pink, bright yellow and deep purple blooms.  

Orchid festival
Orchid festival 2020 © RBG Kew

Vistas 

Our magnificent vistas are ideal for iconic, sweeping panoramic shots of the landscape and give a real sense of place. 

We have three vistas at Kew, which were created by landscape designer William Andrews Nesfield during 1845 and 1846. The avenues of trees frame iconic buildings like the Temperate House and Pagoda beautifully. 

Use our map to help you find the best locations for your shot. 

Syon vista
Syon vista, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

The Grass Garden 

Containing around 550 species, the Grass Garden offers a multitude of textures and colours that look great close up. 

Expect warm tones of yellow, bronze and burnt orange, with plenty of detail in feathery seed heads. 

Try heading here in late afternoon, when the sun is lower during golden hour. The layers of grass look best when illuminated in low sun, with highlighted and shadowed areas creating lovely contrast. 

Grass Garden
Grass Garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
Close-up of grasses in the Grass Garden at Kew
The Grass Garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

The Woodland Garden 

Wander beneath a deciduous canopy of mature oaks, limes and birches, just a short stroll from the Palm House pond.   

Springtime is the perfect time to enjoy this area as hellebores, snowdrops and daffodils burst from the ground. 

Head to this area for atmospheric compositions of swaying ferns and flowers bathed in soft, dappled light. 

Hellebores growing in the Woodland Garden
Hellebores, Woodland Garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
Hellebores, Woodland Garden
Hellebores, Woodland Garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew

The Rock Garden 

This hidden gem is tucked between the Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Davies Alpine House. 

Carved into the landscape, it's home to wild-collected plants from six mountainous regions in the world.

Tiny succulents nestled in the rocks make the perfect muse. Or capture vibrant waterside flora growing next to the waterfall at the centre of the garden.  

Some of these plants are so mini that you'll need a macro lens to pick out the intricate, remarkable patterns.

Salvia, Rock Garden
Salvia, Rock Garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
Saxifraga 'Ziva', Rock Garden
Saxifraga 'Ziva', Rock Garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
Waterfall and flowers in the Rock Garden

For more photography inspiration visit the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition at Kew's Nash Conservatory. 

Don't miss entries to the Captured at Kew award, won by Tianyi Yu with 'Tropical Mist'. 

Tropical Mist by Tianyi Yu
Tropical Mist by Tianyi Yu, winner of Captured at Kew award (International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition)
Nash Conservatory at Kew

International Garden Photographer of the Year

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