The thumbnails below are linked to larger pictures
It is a 300 acre oasis by the River Thames between Richmond and Kew, it is a beautiful tranquil place not overrun with tourists (except perhaps for the many exuberant school groups) and there is plenty to see all the year round much being displayed undercover in heated glass houses.
Kew Gardens is composed of two Royal estates. The Richmond, which was owned by King George II and Queen Caroline in the 1720's and Kew, leased by their son Frederick, prince of Wales in the 1730's.
The two properties came together when George III, son of Frederick inherited the Richmond estate from his grandfather in 1760, and then took on Kew after his mother Augusta's death in 1772, it was Augusta who had founded the botanical garden at Kew and initiated the design of several buildings. After George III died the garden began to fall into decline and was eventually handed over to the state in 1841.
Kew now contains the largest collection of plants in the world, amounting to about 38,000 different types of living plants.
Hidden amongst the rare trees and shrubs are some historic buildings and follies including Kew Palace, The Great Pagoda built in 1762 and views of Syon House
Of all the many displays to visit the I recommend that the following are included at the top of your list
The Princess of Wales conservatory (bottom left picture) is one of the more recent glass houses, which has ten computer controlled climatic zones, from arid to tropical and mangrove swamp. With plants ranging from tiny orchids to the giant waterlily, as well as cacti, carnivorous plants and fish.
The Palm House is a Victorian masterpiece built between 1844 and 1848 overlooking a lake which is home to all kinds of unusual waterfowl. Inside the Palm House is a huge tropical world with many rainforest species with giant leaves and branches reaching up to its curved glass roof. There is a high level observation gallery which enables visitors to look down on the forest of plants below. The basement contains a marine display, including algae, coral and many species of fish. The magnificent formal floral displays planted in front of the Palm House are an added bonus.
The Davies Alpine House is the most recent new glasshouse and houses the renowned Kew collection of alpines in a strikingly innovative Alpine House, which opened in March 2006 at the north end of the Rock Garden,
There are many other gardens and houses to view and it may well require several visits to Kew to study them all.