|A view of the Pagoda, Kew Gardens|
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, often referred to as Kew Gardens, are in Kew in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Kew Palace is situated within the gardens.
Amongst the Georgian royals there were a number of keen gardeners: Queen Caroline; her son Prince Frederick and his wife Princess Augusta; and their son George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte.
Queen Caroline developed the gardens around Richmond Lodge whilst Prince Frederick developed the gardens at Kew. After Prince Frederick’s death, Princess Augusta continued to follow her husband’s plans for the gardens. In 1759, she employed William Aiton to develop her botanical garden and this is considered to be the foundation of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
|Bluebells in front of Kew Palace|
The botanic gardens were given to the state in 1841 and further land was donated in subsequent years. The gardens now cover over 300 acres of land and serve as both a scientific institution and a public park.
The future George II and Queen Caroline started using Richmond Lodge as their summer residence in 1719. The gardens included a number of exotic plants and trees including orange trees, pomegranates, nut trees, myrtles and bay trees.
Caroline consulted Alexander Pope and commissioned William Kent to build various buildings in the grounds including a new pavilion at Richmond, a Gothic Hermitage and Merlin’s Cave.
Prince Frederick and Princess Augusta
George II’s son Frederick and his wife Augusta lived a short distance away at Kew. Frederick had a passion for botany and with the help of Lord Bute, he started to collect exotic plants and trees.
After Frederick’s death in 1751, Augusta continued to develop her husband’s plant collection, using about 9 acres of the Kew estate as a botanical garden.
Augusta continued to accept Lord Bute’s support and appointed William Aiton as her head gardener. She commissioned Sir William Chambers to design various buildings around the estate including the Pagoda, the Ruined Arch and the Orangery.
|The Pagoda, Kew Gardens|
George III and Queen Charlotte used Richmond Lodge and then the White House at Kew as their country retreat. Queen Charlotte shared her mother-in-law’s love of botany and continued to develop the gardens. Sir Joseph Banks often visited and brought a collection of over 1000 new seeds and plants from the South Seas.
Sir Joseph was the unofficial director of Kew and ensured that the study of plants at Kew was done scientifically. Aiton started to create a catalogue of all the plants being introduced, the Hortus Kewensis (1789).
Franz Bauer became the resident artist at Kew and taught botanical drawing to the princesses.
|Part of the ceiling detail from the tea room|
in Queen Charlotte's cottage painted by Princess Elizabeth
Highlights to look out for in the gardens include:
• Queen Charlotte’s Cottage
|Queen Charlotte's Cottage, Kew|
|The Pagoda, Kew Gardens|
|The Ruined Arch, Kew Gardens|
|The Orangery, Kew Gardens|
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like my guides to Queen Charlotte's Cottage and Kew Palace.
Sources used include:
Groom, Susanne and Prosser, Lee, Kew Palace, the official illustrated history (2006)
Kew Gardens website: the people in Kew's history
Photographs © Andrew Knowles - www.flickr.com/photos/dragontomato