Sculpture in Pearcelands Wood > Wakehurst > What to see at Wakehurst > Woodlands of the world

Woodlands of the world

Wakehurst's woodlands contain specimens of temperate trees from all around the world and carpets of wild flowers which provide contrasting colours throughout the year.

About Wakehurst's woods

Our trees are grouped according to the areas of the world in which they grow naturally – a phytogeographic planting system. So you really can take a walk through the temperate woodlands of the world. 

In the great storm of October 1987, Wakehurst lost about 20,000 trees. While it was a great loss we have since created a series of tree collections which are more scientifically important, more attractive to visitors and more relevant to Kew's emphasis on conservation and education. 

Pick up a map at the Visitor Centre. This will show the locations of all the woodlands. It takes between 10 minutes and half an hour to reach the various areas.

Horsebridge Wood

Journey through North America and its hugely varied habitats.

The east coast region is dominated by deciduous trees, with trees such as sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and hickory (Carya tomentosa). Further into the wood the vegetation changes to coniferous woodland and the plants of the Californian region. If you continue you reach the Pacific coastal conifer forest, dominated by stately redwoods, hemlocks and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).

A natural play space, Talking Totems, is nestled beneath sweet gums and hickory trees where children can play and learn from the Native American stories of this region.

Coates Wood

A beautiful woodland planted with trees from the southern hemisphere.

Pass through the woodlands of Australia and New Zealand spotting Eucalyptus, Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobillis) and southern beech (Nothofagus). This area is home to the National Collection of Nothofagus, a distant cousin of our native beech (Fagus sylvatica), but exclusive to the southern hemisphere. 

Plants to look out for include EucryphiaDrimys and Lomatia, all of these shrubs have pretty flowers during spring and summer. There are also fabulous views across Bloomers Valley and the wildflower meadow below.

Bloomers Valley

A carefully managed wildflower meadow in the valley between Horsebridge Wood and Bethlehem Wood.

Wildflowers already present have been mixed with other native wildflower species from Kent and Sussex. It contains several rare species of wild flower such dyers greenweed (Genista tinctoria) and saw-wort (Serratula tinctoria).

Visitors can experience beautiful open views of the valley from high up in Coates Wood, and looking north northeast from Horsebridge Wood.

Rock Walk

The Rock Walk leads visitors along the bottom of a series of low cliffs of Ardingly Sandstone that trace the side of Bloomer’s Valley.

The geology of this part of the High Weald dates back 140 million years to the Early Cretaceous period.

Several yew trees are seemingly clinging to the cliffs here with their root system exposed.

Bethlehem Wood

Here you will find one of Britain’s finest National Collection of birches (Betula).

These trees are beautiful at any time of the year – their coloured bark glows in the winter sunlight, while their delicate leaves provide dappled shade through the summer months. Towards autumn many of the American species turn a rich yellow creating a magical canopy under which to walk.

Westwood Valley

A steep ravine running from the Water Gardens to Westwood Lake, it is home to Wakehurst’s Asian collection of trees and shrubs.

The area represents the landscape of the eastern Himalayas below the tree-line, with semi-evergreen forests of rhododendrons, laurels, maples, alders, oaks, birches, rowan and conifers.


Wakehurst’s Pinetum lies to the northeast of the Himalayan Glade. The name ‘pinetum’ is given to a collection of conifers.

Here you will see the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobillis) and Podocarpus from Australia, and Taiwania and Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria) from Taiwan and Korea. One large specimen of Cryptomeria japonica has a carving of sika deer stag’s head set in its trunk, carved as part of a British/Japanese collaboration in 2013.

In the Pinetum you may also come across an underground communications station used by Canadian troops during World War II.