UK: Glasshouses reopen as visitors are invited to travel the world at Kew

After reopening its gardens at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst in Sussex on 1 June, RBG Kew now announces the reopening of its iconic structures that have remained closed to the public under government guidance.

From Saturday 4 July, the jewels in Kew Gardens’ crown, its world-famous glasshouses, will open their doors once more and welcome visitors to step inside and explore the botanical treasures hidden within. Highlights include the Palm House, Temperate House, Waterlily House, and the Princess of Wales Conservatory. The Hive, the much-loved installation that recreates life inside a beehive, will also reopen. Limited routes and one-way systems will ensure visitors and staff remain safe. At Wakehurst in Sussex, visitors will be able to visit the Millennium Seed Bank - including its exhibition, Surviving or Thriving - and enjoy woodland walks and meadows, at their best this time of year.

Kew Gardens has been gradually opening shopping spaces to visitors in the past few weeks, and this will continue to expand in July, alongside the reopening of restaurants and cafés at both sites in a way that conforms with government guidance, and is practical to implement. The Children’s Garden and art galleries will not be reopening at this time, but this will follow in due course.

In a year when many travel plans have had to change, RBG Kew is encouraging summer visitors to satisfy their wanderlust by making a trip around the world during their day out at Kew Gardens. By taking a journey through the global collections, visitors will discover landscapes, plants and architecture that can transport them from the Mediterranean to a Japanese tea garden; from South African mountaintops to the forests of California – all within a few hours. At the most biodiverse postcode on the planet, visitors can reconnect with nature and discover a whole world of natural wonder.

Keeping visitors safe
Anybody visiting Kew Gardens and Wakehurst will be able to enjoy both sites safely through carefully implemented social distancing measures. Booking advance entry is essential.

The Gardens are adhering to government advice on coronavirus to ensure visitors and staff remain safe while enjoying their time at Kew. Ensuring all visitors pre-book timed entry slots to the Gardens is helping to stagger the entry flow, avoid queues and reduce contact. Toilet facilities undergo strict cleaning throughout the day, and there are handwashing stations at each gate and key locations. Distance markers remain in place at potential crunch points throughout the Gardens, and Kew continues to operate cashless systems at shop and catering pop-ups across the site.

A one-way system and limited, pre-designated routes will be instigated in the glasshouses. This will encourage visitors to enter and exit via different, signposted doors, which will be staffed to monitor attendance and flow.

Richard Barley, Director of Horticulture, Learning and Operations at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said: “We are delighted that after a smooth reopening of the outdoor spaces on June 1st, we can now offer the full RBG Kew experience to our visitors and members as government guidance allows us to safely reopen our beautiful glasshouses and other indoor spaces. We have systems to ensure a safe and welcoming experience for people of all ages. We can’t wait to invite visitors to make the most of our UNESCO World Heritage site and unrivalled plant collections by journeying around the world, within the safety of our walls. Given many holiday plans are on hold, we want to offer visitors a chance to experience the next best thing; to discover the beauty and diversity of the earth’s flora, including  some of my favourite spots at Kew such as the exquisitely fragrant Rose Garden and the Agius Evolution Garden.”

The Big Flower Fight
In a final flourish to Kew Gardens’ summer landscape, a bespoke botanical sculpture - created by the winning duo from the acclaimed Netflix television programme, ‘The Big Flower Fight’ – will be on display in August. Described by some when the programme launched in May as ‘avant-gardening’, if the pair’s previous designs are anything to go by, their travel-themed structure will not disappoint.

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