World's largest Victorian glasshouse re-opens at Kew Gardens
Completion of a five-year restoration project, costing £41million, heralded the re-opening of the Temperate House at Kew Gardens at the beginning of May. Sir David Attenborough described it as a "breathtakingly beautiful space" and others have likened it to a 'botanical' cathedral in terms of its grandeur. But it's also an architectural masterpiece; an extraordinary engineering feat; a sight that shouldn't be missed; and an inspiring day-out.
The magnitude of the project is brought alive through the statistics published by Kew - 10,000 plants uprooted and replanted; enough scaffolding to stretch the full length of the M25; awesome quantities of paint; 15,000 glass panes replaced; 69,000 sections of components repaired or replaced; and five-years of work. The Temperate House first opened in 1863, causing visitors to stare in amazement then, and was closed 150 years later for refurbishment. Onlookers are once again gazing in awe!
It is both the light and spaciousness of the refurbished glasshouse that strikes you on entering, especially if you have already visited the Palm House en route, where the trees are brushing the top panes of glass and pathways through the palms are dark. But the plants here - many of them rare - will grow and it will be interesting to see how different the Temperate House looks in ten years time.
Visit soon and you'll be able to catch the meadow planting and naturalised tulips (above) en route to the new glasshouse and don't forget The Hive (below) - another architectural feat, that attracts visitors to these remarkable gardens. Kew Gardens are open every day. Admission is £16.00 for adults if you buy your tickets online.