Butterflies, Bugs & Beasties, discover how plants get by with a little help from their friends during summer

In 2010 the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is celebrating the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity and throughout the summer we’re inviting visitors to not only explore the stunning Gardens in full bloom; but to also delve into the hidden world of plant pollination and discover how plants work together with animals and insects to sustain life.

ButterflieStephen Hopper, the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew says, “This summer we are celebrating the relationship between flowering plants and their pollinators with a stunning butterfly collection in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Pollinators play a critical role in maintaining their biological communities and ultimately biodiversity – the intricate web of life on which we all depend. This fantastic display in the glasshouse and a new interactive play area will teach children the influence that pollinators have on their favourite plants, down to their shape and colour. Learning whilst they play in Kew’s beautiful surroundings, they will embark on a biodiversity adventure, gaining a glimpse into a field of study still being explored by scientists at Kew and elsewhere today.”

Butterflies, Bugs and Beasties...

Kew’s Princess of Wales Conservatory will be transformed into a haven for Butterflies, Bugs & Beasties. See the spectacle of three butterfly zones, one steamy and flourishing with tropical orchids, another bursting with lush ferns and the last planted with sweet nectar beds. All will host clouds of fluttering butterflies and moths.

Throughout the rest of the glasshouse, among the exotic plants visitors will encounter giant outsize sculptures of bugs and beasties, that seem to hover, swoop and dive into the plants they pollinate. These large scale sculptures of insects, birds, and bats, with visual and audio interpretation, will explain the amazing relationships between flowering plants and their pollinators. There are over 30,000 different flowering plant species in the world, all unique and pollinated in a variety of ways.

Burrow like a worm and hide between the fungi in PLANTastic Play...

Young explorers can discover the new children's landscape, shaped like a plant, and nestled in the grounds of Queen Charlotte’s Cottage in Kew's Conservation Zone. Journeying through this interactive landscape aimed at encouraging natural play, kids can learn about the importance of every part of a plant. They can enter via the roots, walk through the stem, hide between the fungi, get lost in the leaf maze, spin seeds, and watch birds make homes in the bird houses. At every turn, there is something new to learn – hunting for clues, solving puzzles, and enjoying science in a fun and interactive environment.

The wildness of Kew revealed...

The Nash Conservatory hosts a photographic exhibition of stunning images from leading wildlife photographer Heather Angel's book, Wild Kew. The book is a seasonal exploration of the rich diversity of wildlife found in Kew Gardens. While Kew’s 300 acres are filled with over 19,000 different species of plants, what is less well known is that it is also a haven for wildlife, such as the threatened stag beetle.

Whispering in the Leaves...

Chris Watson’s Whispering in the Leaves is an extraordinary sound-art installation that will transport visitors to the dense rainforests of South and Central America through the recorded sounds of their native wildlife. Diffused through 80 speakers, situatedwithin the tropical foliage of the Palm House, Whispering in the Leaves will immerse visitors in a dynamic, spatial soundscape of primate calls and birdsong, backed with a shimmering wall of insect sounds. Animals appear to move around and call to each other, while visitors on the floor will find themselves in an entirely different environment to those on the canopy walkway. A highly sensory experience, Whispering in the Leaves is a remarkable demonstration of the power of sound to evoke captivating locations.

For more information on what Kew has to offer this summer,
please go to www.kew.org/summer