The Temperate House is the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse! This substantial glasshouse is sited at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, which itself is a National Treasure and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Temperate House is a Grade I Listed Building. When this glasshouse’s refurbishment programme commenced work in 2013, the Temperate House was in a dilapidated condition, at this time the Temperate House was on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk Register.
I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in August 2013, just before the planned Temperate House refurbishment programme began and this Victorian glasshouse, with its shabby chic but regal splendour was closed to the public. I watched nervously as Kew staff wheeled containers and decorative, heavy looking display items out of the glasshouse. Back in 2013, the planned reopening date seemed so far into the future, 2018 sounded somewhat space age then, but now, here I am delivered safely to this date, with the good fortune to be here at Kew to see the Temperate House on the day of its reopening!
Nestled inside the warmest zone of the behind-the-scenes Tropical Nursery at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a giant orchid, Grammatophyllum speciosum – also known as the Queen of Orchids – is growing in a wooden slatted basket which was especially made for the plant by Kew. A large, and naturally top-heavy, epiphytic orchid, Grammatophyllum speciosum can be found growing within the branches of tall trees in tropical regions of the world, where it flowers every two to four years.