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Secret Structures: inside the story of plants and fungi

LAST CHANCE! A one-of-a-kind exhibit revealing the hidden world of plants and fungi in the heart of the Millennium Seed Bank. Daily until 25 November.

Event details

Daily, 10am to 3.30pm
Millennium Seed Bank Atrium
Free with entry to the garden

Unveiling the hidden world

In a specially-curated exhibition with original work, marvel at the hidden movements in plant life through an artistic representation of the world's smallest seed.

  • Artist in Residence for Secret Structures, Perdita Sinclair explores the wonderful journey of the slipper orchid seed.

Her artwork takes the form of a beautiful light sculpture depicting the windborne falling of the germination process, through transitioning colours that represent it's future flowering.  A striking, emotive experience to watch in autumnal dusk light. 

  • An interactive Digital Table invites you to peel back the layers of intriguing, scanned objects; a Brazil nut, a piece of oak, an orchid and a carved walnut shell.
  • An excavated oak tree will reveal its complex root system, usually hidden deep underground. 

Scan of seed from secret structures exhibition

Fascinating multimedia displays tell you more about:

Brazil nuts
These desirable fruits pose many challenges - the fruits are risky to harvest and almost impossible to crack. The tree only flourishes in the wild, and has a complex relationship with the local communities that depend on it.

Look beyond their beauty to discover the complex processes involved in propagating orchids, and the crucial role that Kew Science has played in this activity.

Have you heard the warning not to sleep in the shade of a walnut tree? It secretes chemicals to poison nearby plants - so be warned! Uncover an extraordinary walnut carving using our interactive Digital Table.

Oak trees
These ‘kings of the forest’ are part of a vast web of life, supporting more biodiversity than any other of our UK native tree species. From the top of the canopy to the tips of the roots, they are full of surprises.

The excavated oak tree, which you will see as you enter the atrium, was featured on the BBC4 programme Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor. It was kindly given to Wakehurst by East Malling Research Station. Revealing itself in its entirety, it will be the first chance for many visitors to witness its sprawling root system which is normally hidden.

Admission to the Secret Structures exhibition is included with entry to Wakehurst

The Great Storm of 1987

Wakehurst lost 20,000 trees in the Great Storm of 1987, when winds reached up to 115mph.

Find out more from our interactive displays - and see a LIDAR 3D scan of a beech tree (made using pulsed laser light).