The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to simply as Kew Gardens, are extensive gardens and botanical glasshouses between Richmond upon Thames and Kew in southwest London, England
Kew Gardens is situated on the south bank of the River Thames near Richmond, about 10km south-west of London in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.
Kew can be reached easily by car and within walking distance of the London Underground station of Kew (District Line Richmond Branch). This is the best way to get to Kew from the centre or West End of London. Buses serve those living north or south of Kew (Ealing down to Kingston) and the neighbouring suburbs. From north London, Silverlink trains run directly to Kew Gardens station. Several buses (65, 237, 267, 391) come directly to the Gardens or stop at either of the two nearby railway stations, Kew Bridge and Kew Gardens. (Transport for London, 24 hour Travel Information - Phone 0871 560 7952)
Kew Gardens originated in the exotic garden at Kew House formed by Lord Capel of Tewkesbury, enlarged and greatly extended by Princess Augusta, the widow of Frederick, Prince of Wales, for whom Sir William Chambers built several garden structures, of which the lofty Chinese pagoda from 1761 remains. George III enriched the gardens, aided by the skill of William Aiton and of Sir Joseph Banks. The old Kew 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.
Kew Gardens is a leading centre of botanical research, a training ground for professional gardeners, and a popular visitor attraction. The gardens are mostly quite informal, with a few more formal areas. There are extensive conservatories, a herbarium, and a library.
Kew is important as a repository of seeds; it has one of the most important seedbanks. With the Harvard University Herbaria, and the Australian National Herbarium, they co-operate in the IPNI database to produce an authoritative source of information on the nomenclature of plants.
In a corner of Kew Gardens stands the Great Pagoda (by William Chambers), erected in the year 1762, from a design in imitation of the Chinese Taa. The lowest of the ten octagonal storeys is 49 feet (15 metres) in diameter. The whole structure, from the base to the highest point is 163 feet (50 metres) high.
Children visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens are now able to learn about plants through play in a unique new interactive learning area. It marks a new commitment to engaging children in the pleasure and interest of plants.