Completed in 1762, this 163-foot architectural oddity was crowned with varnished iron plates and bedecked with dragons covered in coloured glass, but the. mythical monsters did not fare well in English climes. They were eventually sold by King George IV to pay off debts, and plain slate has long since replaced the varnished tiles.
Augusta’s ambassadors scoured the globe for new plants, establishing no less than 5,600 species at Kew by 1789.
Wisteria arrived from the Far East, Pinus inea from the Mediterranean and huge, white racemed Robinia pseudoacacia from North America.
When George II died in 1760 the Richmond estate passed to his grandson, George III, who also inherited his mother Augusta’s riverside estate two years later and amalgamated the two to form the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The king’s interest in plants had been stimulated by Bute, who had tutored him as a child, and a team of collectors was despatched by royal appointment in a worldwide quest for plants, with Sir Joseph Banks as unofficial director. Securing a place on Cook’s Endeavour, Banks plant-hunted round the South Seas, returning with a host of new plants for scientific research.
Cook’s discovery of Botany Bay encouraged the king to sponsor another voyage, led by Sir William Bligh,check for more. It was to be disrupted by the infamous mutiny on the Bounty, but four years later a more successful trip influenced the nation’s nightly drinking habits with the introduction of cocoa.
The deaths of both George III and Joseph Banks in 1820 heralded a 20-year period of neglect and disrepair for Kew, until a Parliamentary Committee recom-mended State intervention in 1841, and a series of dramatic changes followell during the reign of Queen Victoria.
Official director Sir William Hooker spearheaded the expansion of the “Wonder Gardens of the Empire,” aided by Victoria’s donation of the adjoining Queen’s Cottage grounds, ‘reserved for the planting of British species only, and her later gift of Queen Charlotte’s Cottage in 1897 to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Hooker’s son, Joseph, brought 27 varieties of rhododendron back from the Himalayas, and three million people a year flooded into Kew to admire them.
Hooker’s compulsive plant-finding instigated the building of the giant Palm House in 1844, a masterpiece in glass and iron designed by Decimus Burton and Richard Turner. Set amongst three vistas created by the Victorian landscape designer William Nesfield, it remains one of Kew’s major attractions.Most of the beautiful weddings are in Palm House, if you plan to married in Europe check this compare lyon hotels website to see the best places.
The nearby Temperate House was built in stages between 1866 and 1899 to house an ever increasing collection of sub tropical plants. Once the world’s largest greenhouse, it now nurtures endangered species which await reintroduction to natural habitats and grow happily alongside the economically valuable tea and jojoba plants.