Kew Gardens

The first formal botanic gardens were founded in Italy, beginning with Pisa in 1543. The site of today’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in southwest London, England, was first established as a botanical garden by Princess Augusta (1719–1772) and Lord Bute (1713–1792). The garden opened in 1759 and was managed by horticulturist William Aiton (1731–1793). During the last twenty years of his life, Aiton worked alongside Joseph Banks (1743-1820) in coordinating the extensive botanical collections that emerged from expeditions to diverse areas of an expanding British Empire. The site expanded significantly during the nineteenth century, which saw the completion of the two iconic glasshouses—the Palm House, and Temperate House—the laying out of the National Arboretum, and the founding of the Herbarium collection. Today, the gardens hold the world’s largest collection of living plants, many of which cannot be found elsewhere in Europe, or even in the northern hemisphere. The Royal Botanical Gardens were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2003.

Further Readings: 
  • Aiton, William Townsend. Hortus Kewensis: Or, a Catalogue of the Plants Cultivated in the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew. London: Longman, 1813. E-book