It seems that gardening is very popular these days. Not only here in the UK. Many people have their own allotments or gardens and grow their own flowers and veggies. But what about professional gardening? ... Well, then you need to travel to London and visit ...
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, usually referred to as Kew Gardens, is 121 hectares of gardens and botanical glasshouses between Richmond and Kew in southwest London, England. "The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" and the brand name "Kew" are also used as umbrella terms for the institution that runs both the gardens at Kew and Wakehurst Place gardens in Sussex. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is an internationally important botanical research and education institution with 700 staff and an income of £56 million for the year ended 31 March 2008, as well as a visitor attraction receiving almost two million visits in that year. Created in 1759, the gardens celebrated their 250th anniversary in 2009.The Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is responsible for the world's largest collection of living plants. The organisation employs more than 650 scientists and other staff. The living collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of plants, while the herbarium, which is one of the largest in the world, has over seven million preserved plant specimens. The library contains more than 750,000 volumes, and the illustrations collection contains more than 175,000 prints and drawings of plants. The Kew site includes four Grade I listed buildings and 36 Grade II listed structures in an internationally significant landscape.
Kew Gardens originated in the exotic garden at Kew Park formed by Lord Capel John of Tewkesbury. It was enlarged and extended by Augusta, Dowager Princess of Wales, 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. Some of the early plants came from the walled garden established by William Coys at Stubbers in North Ockendon. The collections grew somewhat haphazardly until the appointment of the first collector, Francis Masson, in 1771. 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 present size of 120 hectares (300 acres). The first curator was John Smith. 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 structure's panes of glass are all hand-blown. 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. In February 1913 the Tea House was burnt down by suffragettes Olive Wharry and Lilian Lenton during a series of arson attacks in London. In October 1987 Kew Gardens lost hundreds of trees in the Great Storm of 1987. In July 2003, the gardens were put on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The current director is Professor Stephen D. Hopper, who succeeded Professor Sir Peter Crane. In November 2010, it was announced that Dr Tim Entwisle, Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, was to become Director of Conservation, Living Collections & Estates.
The Kew herbarium is one of the largest in the world with approximately 7 million specimens used primarily for taxonomic study. The herbarium is rich in types for all regions of the world, especially the tropics.Despite unfavourable growing conditions (atmospheric pollution from London, dry soils and low rainfall) Kew remains one of the most comprehensive plant collections in Britain. In an attempt to expand the collections away from these unfavourable conditions, Kew has established two out-stations, at Wakehurst Place in Sussex, a National Trust property, and (jointly with the Forestry Commission) Bedgebury Pinetum in Kent, the latter specialising in growing conifers. The Harvard University Herbaria and the Australian National Herbarium co-operate with Kew in the IPNI database to produce an authoritative source of information on botanical nomenclature.
In March 2006, the Davies Alpine House opened, the third version of an alpine house since 1887. Although only 16 metres long the apex of the roof arch extends to a height of 10 metres in order to allow the natural airflow of a building of this shape to aid in the all important ventilation required for the type of plants to be housed.The new house features a set of automatically operated blinds that prevent it overheating when the sun is too hot for the plants together with a system that blows a continuous stream of cool air over the plants. The main design aim of the house is to allow maximum light transmission. To this end the glass is of a special low iron type that allows 90% of the ultraviolet light in sunlight to pass. It is attached by high tension steel cables so that no light is obstructed by traditional glazing bars.To conserve energy the cooling air is not refrigerated but is cooled by being passed through a labyrinth of pipes buried under the house at a depth where the temperature remains suitable all year round. A design goal of the house is that the maximum temperature will not exceed 20 degrees Celsius. Kew's collection of Alpine plants (defined as those that grow above the tree-line in their locale - ground level at the poles rising to over 2000 metres in the Alps), extends to over 7000 and as the Alpine house can only house around 200 at a time the ones on show are regularly rotated.