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Queen marks Kew Gardens' 250th anniversary

 Queen Elizabeth II, watched by her husband Prince Philip, cuts a cake in the shape of The Royal Botanic Gardens, during a visit to the gardens in Kew...
 Queen Elizabeth II plants a tree, watched by Head of the Arboretum Tony Kirkham, right, during a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, south-wes...
 Queen Elizabeth II, watches as her husband Prince Philip cuts a cake in the shape of The Royal Botanic Gardens, during a visit to the gardens in Kew,...

BRITAIN ROYAL KEW

Queen Elizabeth II, watched by her husband Prince Philip, cuts a cake in the shape of The Royal Botanic Gardens, during a visit to the gardens in Kew...

BRITAIN ROYAL KEW

Queen Elizabeth II plants a tree, watched by Head of the Arboretum Tony Kirkham, right, during a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, south-wes...

BRITAIN ROYAL KEW

Queen Elizabeth II, watches as her husband Prince Philip cuts a cake in the shape of The Royal Botanic Gardens, during a visit to the gardens in Kew,...

Britain's royal couple celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew on Tuesday, planting trees much as they did a half-century ago.
The metasequoia Prince Philip planted in 1959 is thriving, while the walnut tree planted by Queen Elizabeth II was washed away by the great storm of 1987. No mention was made of this setback when the queen and her husband toured the site again on Tuesday, studying exhibits about its varied research missions.
Dressed in a pink coat and matching hat, the 82-year-old queen wielded a shovel, heaving dirt at the base of a newly planted tree while Tony Kirkham, the head of the Arboretum, looked on.
Spokeswoman Anna Quenby said the queen "had a good visit" that included learning about Kew's ambitious plans to stockpile millions of seeds from the world's plants at the Millennium Seed Bank in Wakehurst.
The seed bank is part of a project to protect the world's biodiversity during an era of climate change.
The queen also toured several parts of the extensive gardens, met with schoolchildren and sliced a giant cake in the shape of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The royal pair's first official visit in many years was a highlight of a yearlong celebration of the landmark anniversary at Kew, one of the world's oldest and best-loved botanical gardens.
It was in 1759 that Princess Augusta, the mother of King George III, planted a nine-acre (three-hectare) garden around Kew Palace that has evolved into the current 300-acre (120-hectare) gardens adjacent to the River Thames in southwest London.
The site today has not only one of the world's most formidable collections of plants but also a number of landmark buildings, including the Palm House, celebrated as the most impressive remaining Victorian iron and glass structure, and the recently restored classical style Orangery.
Landscape architects are studying plans to improve the gardens, which draw visitors from throughout the world.
Eelco Hooftman, director of the Kew Gardens project taken on by the Scottish firm Gross.Max., said the firm's goal is to prepare a long-term master plan to cope with climate change and make the gardens even more pleasant for visitors.
"This is a chance to talk about the next 50 years," he said. "We have been asked to develop 10 pilot projects of how the garden could be improved in the short term and medium term."
He said the gardens' status since 2003 as a World Heritage Site give planners a mandate to protect the views and other features that make it unique.
Among the future plans being considered are a pedestrian walkway over the River Thames, which could link Kew Gardens to Syon House, another historic home and gardens on the other side, and the addition of a passenger ferry.


Updated : 2021-03-05 15:31 GMT+08:00