Kew Gardens: World's largest glasshouse reopens

London's Kew Gardens is to reopen its Temperate House - the world's largest Victorian glasshouse - after a five-year restoration.

For the first time in its history, the Grade I-listed structure was "stripped back to bare metal" and modernised.

More than 5,280 litres (1,160 gallons) of paint was used, enough to cover four football pitches, and 15,000 panes of glass replaced.

The house will open to the public on Saturday, 5 May.

The vast greenhouse is now home to a geographically arranged collection of 10,000 plants from of temperate climates around the world - areas sometimes described as "the Goldilocks zone" of the planet, where plants are safe from frost.

These include some of the rarest and most threatened specimens, for which the botanic garden is a final refuge.

Among the 1,500 different species of temperate plants is the extremely rare South African cycadEncephalartos woodii, a plant that has disappeared from the wild and is now found exclusively in botanic gardens and private collections.

This tree has been dubbed "the loneliest plant in the world" because only male plants remain - each a clone of the specimen at Kew, which was collected in the middle of the 19th Century. Some plants contain both male and female parts, but this species requires a female to produce seeds.

Lead horticulturalist Scott Taylor, who is overseeing the Temperate House collection, explained that plant-hunters are still searching for a female cycad soEncephalartos woodiican be bred. And he stressed the importance of having an insurance population of every one of the world's most endangered plants.

"We have a really important job to keep all of these things going," Mr Taylor said. "For some plants that are down to a few individuals in the wild - a wildfire, an earthquake, and they're gone."

presentational grey line

The Temperate House in numbers

  • The restoration cost £41m
  • 69,000 individual elements have been removed from building and cleaned, repaired or replaced
  • 15,000 panes of glass have been replaced
  • 116 urns, which had to be carefully lifted by crane off the building, have been restored
  • 180km (110 miles) of scaffolding was used, equivalent to the length of the M25
  • 5,280 litres of paint was used, enough to cover four football pitches;
  • 400 staff members and contractors worked in phases on the project, taking 1,731 days to complete it

Source: Kew Gardens

presentational grey line

In an interview with the BBC, the naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough said he had first visited Kew Gardens "back when it cost a penny".

"When I had an office job at the BBC, when I used to be stuck in the office and get really depressed, I would come here at the weekend and take a deep breath, because there was a smell of the tropics.

"Plant species can go extinct just like animal species can go extinct," Sir David added. "[So] this is a very important institution."

Read more news of London on our site.

bbc.com
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
2 views in september
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Comments are designed to communicate and discuss the features of an enterprise or event, as well as to find out the interesting questions on it.

Society
The U.S. and President Donald Trump has slapped a 15 per cent tariff on all steel and aluminum it receives from Canada, and if that rises to 25 per cent as has been threatened, it will cost more for the city to build its bridges and buildings with steel from the U.S. “We are trying to estimate a worst-case scenario,” said city treasurer Anna Lisa Barbon. “If there is a significant tariff increase, what impact would it have?” While the tariff is on steel sh...
Society
A teenage girl was raped in broad daylight in an east London park, police have said. The Met's child abuse and sexual offences command is investigating the attack, which happened in West Ham Park on Tuesday. The female victim was attacked by a man close to the entrance opposite FairlandRoad, Scotland Yard said. It happened at about 4pm. No arrests have yet been made. West Ham Park, which dates back to the 16th century,is run by the City of London Corporati...
Society
The number of homes in London will need to rise by a quarter within 25 years to cope with its rising population,official figures showed today. In a dramatic indication of the scale of the challenge, the Office for National Statistics said an extra 844,000 new households will be formed here by 2041 if current trends continue. That amounts to a 24 per cent increase on the existing total and would give London — which now has about 3.4 million households — a n...
Society
Earlier this summer, Yoshua Bengio, the McGill-based Artificial Intelligence pioneer and one of the world’s leading authorities on neural networks and machine-learning, added his name to a growing global list of experts and laboratories in the field that are pledging to have no role in the creation of what are called “lethal autonomous weapons” (LAWs). The signatories’ premise is as benign as it is unsound: that machines must never be given the authority t...
Society
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he cannot be sure when Crossrail will be complete. Mr Khan said he will talk about a revised timetable at some stage, but only when he has confidence in it. It was announced on August 31 that the capital's new east-west railway would open in autumn 2019 rather than December this year. Mr Khan previously revealed that he only learned of Crossrail's delay two days before the announcement. The mayor was asked on BBC Radio L...
Society
Just weeks into a new school year, Western University and its roughly 1,650 faculty members are locked in a contractdispute, with faculty taking a strike vote among its members. But if there’s potential for labour disruption, it’s news to many students still easing into their new academic routines. “We literally had no clue,” said Melissa Trueman, a fifth year student at the university. “Students are trying to accomplish a goal but they can’t do it if thei...
Society
A large group of Uber Eats drivers blocked a road in east London today as they staged a protest over pay. Protesters said it was a spontaneous show of action against the company, as drivers claimed rates for every delivery had been reduced without it being agreed first. An Uber Eats spokesman said the firm has made changes to its payment structure in London in response to feedback from couriers. "As we transition to the new system, we're introducing minimu...
Crime
A gunman has open fired on a north London street, leaving two injured and reported holes in a taxi window. Armed police were deployed to Islington on Thursday evening, at about 9.30pm, after witnesses reported hearing gun shots and people running from the area. The suspect then fled the scene, on Essex Road, police said. Officers found two people – a 34-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man – suffering from minor injuries. The woman, police added, was taken...
Society
A businessman and his family were targeted in an arson attack which police are treating as a suspected race hate crime. Mac Karlekar, 44, and his wife and 15-year-old son fled their home in Orpington after their hedge was set on fire. Mr Karlekar has told how he was woken up in the early hours of the morning by neighbours, who were alerted by the “uncontrollable” barking of their dog Maggie. The neighbours opened their window and saw the blaze, then they c...