Kew Gardens

Anyone visiting the capital for a short break and wants to take a break from the bustling streets and enjoy some stunning green space could well head off to Kew Gardens, or to give it its full title, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The name is synonymous with one of the best examples of green space in London, but many don’t realise the work that goes on behind the scenes here.

The organisation behind Kew Gardens does an awful lot more than keep the grounds neat and tidy for the visitors as they have amongst their many experts a team that deal with research and data as well science and conservation. Their mission statement, which has been in place since 2007 is “to inspire and deliver science-based plant conservation worldwide, enhancing the quality of life” and a good job they are doing of that too.

Their business aim, which is the dealt with the by the side of the organisation that visitors to the gardens know little about, is to produce information, both basic and applied, relating to topics related to plants and fungi and to both manage and communicate this to their stakeholders. This is carried out through their scientific research in biological interactions, systematics, economic botany, horticulture and conservation.

They underpin this aim with their extensive collections of both living and preserved fungi and plants, the associated artefacts, archives and literature, and all of this is interpreted to the general public through the gardens they have at Kew and Wakehurst Place. These are effectively public amenities which offer them the opportunity to learn not only about plants and flowers but also the wide range of work undertaken by the organisation.

Their ability to increase their outreach and their global impact very much depends on how effectively they communicate with the masses, and their dissemination activities, educational programmes and the national and international networks of partnerships they have in place are fundamental in making sure that they transfer their specialist knowledge to the entire global community.

The television documentary series A Year at Kew, gave a unique insight into the gardens, those who worked there, and everything going on behind the scenes. There was a feature in one episode about the growing and the research they were doing at the time into Aloe Vera plants. Kew Gardens has a special hothouse which is dedicated to growing numerous varieties of these plants and the researchers were investigating the well documented efficacious properties these miracle plants contain.

This was just one of the many projects that have been carried out here over the years, and vital research has been performed on a wide range of plants and fungi which has been logged as scientific data. So next time you visit Kew or Wakehurst think of it as a trip to the theatre. You are viewing the performers but there is a heck of a lot going on backstage and you are only seeing what is on view thanks to the work that they have put in.

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