14 July 2020

Travel Europe at Kew

Journey from the Mediterranean to the Alps, in our Gardens’ top European spots.

By Katie Avis-Riordan

Mediterranean Garden at Kew

This year may not be the best for holidays, but we’ve got a way for you to travel to beautiful countries without even having to board a plane.

Be transported to European destinations through our wonderful botanic collections and landscapes.

Discover our plants, architecture and the rich mix of fragrances and colour that evoke the spirit of our home continent. 

Visit the Mediterranean

Enjoy the sun-drenched landscape of Southern Europe in our enchanting Mediterranean Garden.

Stroll among the stone pines (Pinus pinea), Tuscan olive trees (Olea europaea), cork oak (Quercus suber) and Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) to be teleported to the wild botanic landscapes of Italy, Spain, and the Greek Islands.

Aromatic herbs like rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus), lavender (Lavandula lanata) and rock rose (Cistus) fragrance the air.

Our collection of Mediterranean plants thrives in our Gardens as Kew is one of the sunniest places in the British Isles, enjoying warm summer months.

Did you know? As with all our scientific collections, our Mediterranean Garden is a living reference library for our scientists and aims to only showcase plants grown from wild-collected seed.

Stone pine, Mediterranean garden
Stone pine, Mediterranean garden, © RBG Kew
Rosemary, Mediterranean Garden, Ellen McHale/RBG Kew
Rosemary in the Mediterranean Garden, Kew, Ellen McHale/RBG Kew
Rosemary in the Mediterranean Garden, Kew, Ellen McHale/RBG Kew

Enhancing the Mediterranean atmosphere is the Tuscan portico of our King William’s Temple, nestled among the diverse plant life of the region.

This beautiful folly was built in 1837 for Queen Victoria, in memory of William IV.

Continue your trip of the Mediterranean by ambling along our 320-metre Great Broad Walk Borders.

A feast for the senses and a floral treasure trove, this aromatic and colourful walkway displays many stunning plants native to the Mediterranean, including species from the mint family (Lamiaceae), and Verbascum and Phlomis genera.

Browse our collection of books on Mediterranean plants in the Kew Online Shop

King William's Temple in the Mediterranean Garden
Mediterranean Garden © RBG Kew
Great Broad Walk Borders, RBG Kew
Great Broad Walk Borders, RBG Kew
Great Broad Walk Borders, RBG Kew
Great Broad Walk Borders, RBG Kew / Jeff Eden

Visit the Alps

Trek to the Alps without the need for mountain gear by exploring our wonderful Rock Garden.

Seek out our dedicated section for alpine plants from the European Alps and Pyrenees.

Many of the amazing species on show are impressively resilient and have adapted to survive extreme conditions at high altitudes.

Inside our Davies Alpine House, you’ll experience the cool and dry climate that allows alpine plants to flourish.

Vibrant purple campanulas, pink dianthus, pretty lavenders, tulips and verbascums can be found blooming here, after being nurtured in our Alpine Nursery.

Did you know? The Davies Alpine House was specially designed to recreate the dry, cool, light, and windy conditions alpines need to thrive. It keeps plants dry in winter and provides the cool summer conditions of mountain habitats.

Alpine House viewed from Rock Garden
Alpine House viewed from Rock Garden
A waterfall in the Rock Garden
A waterfall in the Rock Garden, Paul Little / RBG Kew

Visit the British Isles

Fancy a staycation? We have plenty of spots celebrating the diversity and beauty of British plant life.

Walk on the wild side in our Natural Area, showcasing Britain’s native woodlands and teeming with native wildlife from fungi and insects to birds and mammals.

A sinuous path will lead you through swathes of wildflowers, tall grasses, and native trees, such as oak, beech, hornbeam, ash, and hazel.

A trail through the Natural Area
The Woodland Walk offers a raised trail through the Natural Area

In our Pinetum, can you spot the three conifers native to Britain? They are the Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), English yew (Taxus baccata) and juniper (Juniperus communis).

Head to our Queen’s Garden behind Kew Palace and you’ll go back in time to discover plants which were grown in Britain in the 1600s and earlier.

For a secret and secluded spot, why not explore our walled Duke’s Garden? Located near the Grass Garden, this beautiful space of herbaceous borders and manicured lawns reflects the design of a traditional 20th-century English flower garden.

Duke's Garden
Duke's Garden, Meg Boldison © RBG Kew
Duke's garden
Duke's garden, Ellen McHale © RBG Kew
A view of the Queen's Garden, Kew Palace
Queen's Garden, Richard Wilford ©RBG Kew

Visit other parts of Europe

If your holiday plans normally include visiting ancient temples and ruins, then you’re in luck.

You can do some sightseeing and discover the historical European follies across our Gardens.

Pick out these four Grade II listed structures designed by architect Sir William Chambers in the mid-18th century…

The Temple of Arethusa, near the Palm House Pond, is named after a nymph from Greek mythology and is the setting of Kew’s war memorials.

The Ruined Arch near the Marianne North Gallery is a scenic mock ruin in the classical Roman style, while the Temple of Bellona next to Victoria Plaza is named after the ancient Roman goddess of war.

In the Woodland Garden, you’ll see the Temple of Aeolus perched high on a mound. Originally built from wood, the temple, named after the ruler of the winds in Greek mythology, was rebuilt in stone in 1845 by Decimus Burton.

See how many other notable structures and statues you can spot on your next visit to Kew.  

Blossom in the Woodland Garden
Blossom in the Woodland Garden © RBG Kew

Wander through our Arboretum and discover the many stunning trees native to Europe within our collection of 14,000 trees, including rare and ancient varieties.

Enjoy the spirit of the vibrant squares across Southern Europe by dining alfresco at our Pavilion restaurant.

Our eatery, with its vast outdoor terrace framed by stunning hanging vines, is the perfect place to relax, connect with the surrounding nature and enjoy our delicious menu of charcoal-fire-grilled food.

So come and visit Kew to get your holiday fix and journey through Europe in one day.

Mediterranean Garden

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