The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are 250 years old, but there’s plenty here for the modern outdoor adventurer. You can still wander the old Victorian Palm House and indulge in a little old-fashioned promenading like someone in a BBC costume drama, but these gardens, originally developed in the back yard of the royal palace favoured most by George III, are one of two national bases for research and education into botanical studies. So while you’re seeking out the luscious flora (including the giant, stinking Titan Arum in the Princess of Wales Conservatory), there are scientists beavering away in labs and offices, out of sight.
Each of the glasshouses has a different, maintained climate, designed to nurture everything from the world’s largest water lilies to delicate Alpine flowers to tropical blooms. (The Temperate House is closed until 2018.)
If you’ve got a head for heights, take the Tree Top Walkway where you get a bird’s eye view of some of the park’s centuries-old trees, then stroll down to the Chinese Pagoda, built in 1762. Towering over the southern end of the Gardens, it must have been an awesome and strange sight to eighteenth century Londoners.
Come here to be inspired for your next garden makeover or to stroll the vast landscape of formal gardens, but then make time to seek out sculptures like Henry Moore’s ‘Reclining Mother and Child’ in a stunning setting that changes with the light of each season.
There’s plenty to do. In fact, art alone could take up your