Temperate House, the oldest andlargest Victorian glasshouse in the world, is finally opening its doors after themost complex restoration project in Kew Gardens' history.
The great glass doors to this Grade I-listedbotanical palace, first opened in 1863, closed in 2013 for a much needed revamp – costing a whopping£41 million.
The renovation was no walk in the park; it took5,280 litres of paint (enough to cover four football pitches), 400 staff members,10,000 plants uprooted and replanted, 15,000 panes of glass replaced (each painstakingly cleaned individually), 69,000 sections of metal, stone and timber repaired or replaced, 116 new urns, and110 miles of scaffolding (that'senough scaffolding to stretch the length of the M25)to restore this beautiful, 20 metre high structure.
Nowthe world's greatest glasshouse is ready to reopen to the public on the 5th May. It now looks better than ever, with loads more light pours in through acres of new glass, and the hundreds of plant specimens all thriving and blooming, many of them among the rarest in the world with some being nearly extinct.
Kew is home toover 35,000 species of plants, andDavidAttenborough once described Kew as the most important botanical institute in the world.
Some of the tallest plants that used to push right up against the roof of the glasshouse have now been replaced with smaller specimens, as a result allowing more light to beam through and reaching more plants lower down.
Some plants were taken out altogether as some can now be grown outside the shelter of the house, one benevolent result of climate change.
Some of the plants were so large the decision was taken to box them in and leave them in place through the five years of building work.
Visitors of the new Temperate House can expect towander through the freshly painted doors of this iconic building and see some of the world’s most exotic and rare plantsfrom areas such as the Mediterranean, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South and Central America, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Kew Gardens’ Temperate House opens again on 5 May,kew.org.