Palin to open Kew's alpine house

Kew's new £1m alpine glasshouse will be opened this month by popular television presenter Michael Palin.

Comedian-turned-explorer Michael Palin will open Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s new £1m alpine house on 10 March. Director of Bolton Wanderers FC and chairman of manufacturer Strix Edwin Davies OBE donated the money to build the first public glasshouse at the botanic garden since the Princess of Wales glasshouse 20 years ago. Wilkinson Eyre Architects has designed the 144sq m showcase for Kew’s alpine collection. Greenmark International is engineer and groundworks contractor is Kilby & Gayford. Kew staff are landscaping the area around the glasshouse. Kew collections manager Richard Wilford is putting the finishing touches to the outside rock garden but will wait to replant the north end until spring 2007. He said the design was a combination of being attractive and getting conditions right for plants: “It’s very functional. The height acts as a chimney effect.” Laminated glazing and high-tension cables mean less metal and more glass, allowing for extra light. Kew demolished the old alpine house two years ago to extend its laboratory. It now expects a huge increase in visitors and plans include wide paths for two-way traffic, two 40-plant display benches and 40 plants in plunge pots. Team leader Kate Price will be in charge.

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