How to Spend A Day in Kew Gardens
Today I'm bringing you along on a beautiful botanical adventure through a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Royal Botanical Kew Gardens! This gorgeous attraction was brought to my attention while I was researching some things to do in London for this year's summer bucket-list and I had the opportunity to visit it earlier this month with some friends who were visiting from LA. I'm not going to lie to you, Kew Gardens was certainly not on the top of my bucket-list as the journey out towards Richmond is quite a trek and I was skeptical of spending £16.50 on a ticket for what I originally thought was “just another park". I can assure you that I was very wrong about all of this and I am glad I got my head out of my butt, spent the cash, and travelled out of my comfort zone. SO, onto what we did and how we did it, starting with a quick glance.
At a Glance
Closest Tube Station:
Kew Gardens on the Overground Line
£16.50 per adult (not including tickets to the Great Pagoda)
Time Spent Exploring: About 4 hours for the gardens, not including the Palace or Pagoda
How much extra money you'll spend:
£5 - 10, if you want to grab a water or a snack
£10 - 20, if you decide to peruse the gift shop
Is it worth it?
Yes, if you're into plants, long walks, and being at one with nature. This is a great way to spend a relaxed day away from the busy city.
No, if you can't imagine looking at trees for 4 hours or dislike humidity as those greenhouses can get pretty sweaty!
We were absolutely blessed by the weather gods and enjoyed the one very sunny and very hot day that had been sandwiched between two very rainy weeks. I may have made a mistake wearing jeans, but hey ho, you live and you learn. We started off by heading towards The Botanical in hopes we would be able to grab brunch while looking over to Palm House. Unfortunately, it’s not quite within the student/fresh graduate budget so we beelined it for The Food Village instead! After scarfing down some sandwiches and crisps, we decided to effectively walk the entirety of the gardens in one big circle, which is conveniently highlighted in yellow on their map and dubbed the Kew Explorer route. We didn’t quite follow along this route, but we kinda did. So here’s what we managed to see on our own explorers route!
The first landmark of the gardens that we wanted to see was the Treetop Walkway. We may have had to make some space for a large amount of school children, but otherwise the short walk amongst the tops of the trees was lovely. Each platform has a fun fact about trees in the surrounding areas and there's just something incredibly satisfying with standing up in the trees looking down at the world around you. Once you make it most of the way round, you can even catch a glimpse of Temperate House through the trees, which looks absolutely stunning if I do say so myself.
The Great Pagoda
Next, we took the scenic route down to the water-lily pond, which is just at the start of the long stretch down to the Great Pagoda! The water-lily pond was frankly, quite disappointing, but seeing the pagoda in the distance has definitely solidified my desire to head back to Kew Gardens with George! While on our walk there, we also managed to catch a glimpse of King William’s Temple through the Mediterranean Gardens, which has also piqued my interest enough really make sure I head back before the end of the summer!
Next on the list of sights was Sackler Crossing, which I originally thought was going to be a historical crossing with eons of history and intrigue, but it turns out it’s just a bridge that was installed in 2006 to make it easier for visitors to get to the other side of the gardens without having to go the long way round. In terms of bridges, it’s pretty good and does its job of being a bridge well, seeing as I got to the other side unscathed by the surrounding lake. There’s not much else I can say about a bridge, but this one was also particularly close to the water so you almost feel like Jesus as you cross it. I think it’s also safe to say that this will never become an architecture blog.
Minka House and Bamboo Garden
After crossing the bridge, we found ourselves set up to head up to Minka House and the surrounding Bamboo Gardens. Minka House ended up being a secret gem we uncovered, as we honestly went in to escape the heat for a minute, but ended up learning a little bit about Minka Houses and their relation to Japanese history and architecture. Snaps for impromptu learning! By this point, we had been exploring for just about an hour and a half and we decided it was time to head back down towards the entrance.
Princess of Wales Conservatory
On our way back we hit the Princess of Wales Conservatory, one of the few conservatory we actually ended up spending some time in - and boy, am I glad we did. The sheer variety of plants they have in there is breathtaking and they are all so different and beautiful, I had never wished more to be more into botany. My two favourite rooms in the conservatory were the hot and dry climate because of all the beautiful cacti, and the hot and humid climate, because there’s nothing like humidity and jungle plants to make you feel at home!
Davies Alpine House
After leaving the conservatory, we were immediately greeted by the Davies Alpine House, a small but wonderful cool (both temperature and plant-wise) little building that leads the way out to the Rock Garden. We stopped to admire the alpine flowers before heading out to wonder at the mini waterfalls in the Rock Garden. It was here that we decided it was time to head to Palm House and end our day at Kew!
The Palm House
Palm House was definitely a case of saving the best for last, because if you’re a sucker for palm trees, palm leaves, and warm weather - this is the place to be my friends. When you enter the house, you’re greeting with some of the most lushes green palms you’ll ever see outside of their natural habitat and then shortly after that you’ll be greeted with sweat. Since we were so hot, we didn’t spend too long admiring all the palms, but rather we took it in as best as we could, admired the flowering hibiscuses, and then took some group pictures for our respective mums (you can’t visit somewhere without doing this!).
After getting our pictures, we perused the gift shop and had a drink in the connecting cafe before heading home. The gift shop itself was pretty big and they use the money they make their to keep up the maintenance of Kew since it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I ended up buying some Chilli Dark Chocolate and a bee card for George, while my friends ended up picking up some of their soaps and trinket-y things. And that was our day in Kew Gardens! I would totally recommend going if you’re into plants or just want to wander around wistfully amongst nature for a few hours. Let me know if you’ve been and if there’s anything I should definitely see on my next trip round, otherwise…
Until next time,