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The Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew Gardens), London, England

March 19th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to simply as Kew Gardens, are extensive gardens and botanical glasshouses between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England. The director is Professor Stephen D. Hopper, who succeeded Professor Sir Peter Crane. The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew is also the name of the organisation that runs Kew Gardens and Wakehurst Place gardens in Sussex. It is an internationally important botanical research and education institution with 700 staff and an income of £44 million for the year ended 31 March 2006.

Kew Gardens originated in the exotic garden at Kew Park formed by Lord Capel of Tewkesbury. It was enlarged and extended by Princess Augusta, the widow of Frederick, Prince of Wales, for whom Sir William Chambers built several garden structures. One of these, the lofty Chinese pagoda built in 1761 still remains. George III enriched the gardens, aided by William Aiton and Sir Joseph Banks. The old Kew Park (by then renamed the White House), was demolished in 1802. The "Dutch House" adjoining was purchased by George III in 1781 as a nursery for the royal children. It is a plain brick structure now known as Kew Palace.

In 1840 the gardens were adopted as a national botanical garden. Under Kew's director, William Hooker, the gardens were increased to 30 hectares (75 acres) and the pleasure grounds, or arboretum, extended to 109 hectares (270 acres), and later to its current size of 120 hectares (300 acres).

The Palm House was built by architect Decimus Burton and iron-maker Richard Turner between 1844 and 1848, and was the first large-scale structural use of wrought iron. The Temperate house, which is twice as large as the Palm House, followed later in the 19th century. It is now the largest Victorian glasshouse in existence.

Kew was the location of the successful effort in the 19th century to propagate rubber trees for cultivation outside South America.

Princess of Wales Conservatory

Princess of Wales Conservatory

The year 1987 saw the opening of Kew's third major conservatory, the Princess of Wales Conservatory (opened by Princess Diana in commemoration of her predecessor Augusta's associations with Kew), which houses 10 climate zones.

In October 1987 Kew Gardens lost hundreds of trees in a hurricane.

In July 2003, the gardens were put on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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