From the World Heritage inscription for the Kew Gardens:
Set amongst a series of parks and estates along the River Thames’ south-western reaches, this historic landscape garden includes work by internationally renowned landscape architects Bridgeman, Kent, Chambers, Capability Brown and Nesfield illustrating significant periods in garden design from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The gardens house extensive botanic collections (conserved plants, living plants, and documents) that have been considerably enriched through the centuries. Since their creation in 1759, the gardens have made a significant and uninterrupted contribution to the study of plant diversity, plant systematics, and economic botany.
The landscape design of Kew Botanic Gardens, their buildings, and plant collections combine to form a unique testimony to developments in garden art and botanical science that were subsequently diffused around the world. The 18th century English landscape garden concept was adopted in Europe and Kew’s influence in horticulture, plant classification and economic botany spread internationally from the time of Joseph Banks’ directorship in the 1770s. As the focus of a growing level of botanic activity, the mid 19th-century garden, which overlays earlier royal landscape gardens is centered on two large iron framed glasshouses – the Palm House and the Temperate House that became models for conservatories around the world. Elements of the 18th and 19th century layers including the Orangery, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage; the folly temples; Rhododendron Dell, boundary ha-ha; garden vistas to William Chambers’ pagoda and Syon Park House; iron framed glasshouses; ornamental lakes and ponds; herbarium and plant collections convey the history of the Gardens’ development from royal retreat and pleasure garden to national botanical and horticultural garden before becoming a modern institution of conservation ecology in the 20th century.
The Kew Gardens are one of the most underrated attractions in London. I went there on Sunday morning and had a wonderful time. Most of the visitors seemed to be locals, as opposed to the mobs of foreigners you see at the Tower of London or Westminster Abby. It took me a while to get there because of construction with the Underground, but if everything is working the trip shouldn’t be too onerous.
View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK.
View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.