The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens or Kew Gardens) are the largest, oldest and most prestigious botanical gardens in the world. The Kew Gardens, as they are generally known, house a large complex of gardens, arbours and greenhouses located in a vast park between Kew and Richmond upon Thames, on the south-western outskirts of London. The gardens were one of the ancient principles of naturalists of world renown, reckoned among their herdted famous botanic directors William William and Joseph Dalton Hooker. The current director is Stephen Hopper.
The Kew Gardens originated in the exotic gardens commanded by Lord Capel of Tewkesbury, on the large property which was then known as Kew Park. After a few years, the gardens were enlarged and enlarged by the initiative of Princess Augusta de Saxe-Gota, the widow of Prince Frederick of Wales.
In this phase were built several structures, designed by the architect Sir William Chambers, among them the well-known Chinese pagoda, completed in 1761 and still today one of the park’s greatest attractions.
At the initiative of King George III, the diversity of plants present in the gardens was enriched, having for that purpose the talent and knowledge of some of the best botanists of the time, namely William Aiton and Sir Joseph Banks. The former Kew Park (then renamed the White House) was demolished in 1802. To extend the park, George III purchased the annexed property, then called the Dutch House, in 1781, and installed a kindergarten for the children of the royal family. The building, in red brick, is now known as Kew Palace.
In 1840 the gardens were instituted as National Botanic Gardens, having essentially objectives aimed at scientific and technological research in the areas of botany, systematics and gardening. Under the direction of the then-appointed William Hooker, the gardens were extended to 30 ha and the arboretum reached the 109 ha area and was progressively widened to 120 ha.
The Palm House, one of the oldest and most emblematic structures of Kew Gardens.
The Palm House was designed by the architect Decimus Burton and built by the wrought iron expert Richard Turner between 1844 and 1848, being the first large building to be built using wrought iron as the main structural material. Temperate House, roughly twice the size of Palm House, was built shortly thereafter. These structures are the largest existing Victorian greenhouses and are known for the structural elegance and the then innovative characteristics of the materials and constructive techniques that were used in their design and construction.
The Princess of Wales Conservatory.
In the nineteenth century, research was successfully carried out in the Kew Gardens to find out the propagation of the rubber tree, opening the way for the expansion of its culture outside of South America and effectively ending the virtual monopoly in Brazil. rubber production.
In another important step in the growth and consolidation of Kew Gardens, a new greenhouse complex was completed in 1987, the third largest of the gardens, then renamed the Princess of Wales Conservatory and inaugurated by Princess Diana of Wales. The name of the greenhouse complex honors the predecessor in the title, Augusta de Saxe-Gota, the founder of Kew Park. The new greenhouse complex houses plants from 10 different bio-climatic zones.
In July 2003, the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew were included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Today the Kew Botanical Gardens continue to be one of the centers of excellence in botanical research, a renowned professional gardening training center and one of London’s top tourist attractions.
The structure of the gardens is now mostly informal, with only a few areas maintaining the formalism of the classic gardens. It has extensive greenhouse complexes, a herbarium and a mycological collection, libraries and several places of leisure and catering.
Despite relatively unfavorable environmental conditions (due to London’s air pollution, soil prone to dryness and low rainfall of the site), Kew remains one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of plants in the world. As a way of expanding the collections in more favorable locations, Kew established gardens at Wakehurst Place in Sussex and, in a joint operation with the British Forestry Commission, at Bedgebury Pinetum in Kent, the latter structure specialized in conifer culture.