Europe's longest double herbaceous borders set to open

From July, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew will open Europe's longest double herbaceous borders, to be known as 'The Great Broad Walk Borders'.

Artist's impression of the new broad walk borders. Image: Kew
Artist's impression of the new broad walk borders. Image: Kew

The borders will sweep along 320m of Kew's famous Broad Walk reminding visitors of the value of global plant conservation and of Kew as a global resource for plant knowledge. Some 30,000 plants will offer a bold diversity of textures and vibrant colours through the growing season, with a peak display between June and September.

The Broad Walk was originally landscaped in the 1840's by William Nesfield to heighten the drama of the approach to the newly-constructed Palm House (completed in 1848). Along both sides of the Broad Walk, Nesfield laid out an intricate embroidery of formal beds, which were designed to create a promenade of great horticultural beauty.

Kew's manager of garden design, Richard Wilford, has respected William Nesfield's original design intent, creating beds of horticultural splendour for our visitors. They will bring swathes of summer colour into the most popular area of the gardens. Each section of the borders has been designed to a different theme, with some grouped into plant families and others selected for their spectacular colour and form.

The planting includes members of the Lamiaceae (sage) family, one of the most researched families in Kew's laboratories, golden rudbeckia and the vibrant asters 'Pixie Red-Eye' and 'Little Carlow' among the Compositae (daisy) family, known for strong and bold summer shades. 

Among the summer perennials are some choice species propagated from Kew's collections. They include the rose-purple Tennessee coneflower, Echinacea tennesseensis, the South African Berkheya purpurea with pale purple flowers held high above a rosette of prickly leaves, and another South African, the tiny Cotula fallax, which has finely cut silvery foliage and yellow pompom-like flower heads.

Richard Barley, director of horticulture, learning and operations, said: "I am incredibly excited to see how the newly-designed Great Broad Walk Borders will enhance Kew's extraordinary landscape and highlight the natural beauty of plants, provide breath-taking summer colour and remind us of their importance to the health of our planet. The Kew team has worked tirelessly to create horticultural history, with a development that will be known worldwide for both its sheer scale, and show-stopping beauty."

The borders will be further highlighted by weekend activities, showcasing their history and design.

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