Kew Gardens is to feature is a brand-new four-part TV series on Channel 5. The show will launch on Thursday 13 May 2021 at 8pm and give viewers unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to both Kew Gardens in London and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex.
Viewers will be able to learn more about scientific projects underway at Kew, as well as gain deep insights into the plants themselves, and how Kew’s employees maintain, study and protect one of the most diverse plant collections on the planet. This is to say nothing of the garden design ideas the spectacular gardens will inspire in viewers.
Channel 5 had special permission to film behind the scenes during lockdown. The series features four one-hour long episodes, with stories told across each of the four seasons. Topics covered will be as diverse as finding critical solutions to Ash dieback disease killing our ash trees, and searching the world for future foods to feed a growing population of a heating planet.
The series opens with the ‘Winter’ episode and takes viewers to the banana plants in the iconic Palm House getting a much-needed trim before they hit the glass roof, and visits the set-up for the 25th annual Orchids winter festival. The show also features an interview with Kew scientist, Dr James Borrell, who shares his research into enset, the plant dubbed the ‘tree against hunger’, providing the staple food for 20 million Ethiopians.
Anyone in the middle of tackling their spring garden jobs will enjoy the ‘Spring’ episode. It provides a rare behind-the-scenes look into the preparation for the annual display in the Waterlily House, which sees the glasshouse go from empty to bursting point. At Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, the focus is on its next big project, The American Prairie, and the team are filmed as they prepare to sow the first seeds in this new landscape.
The ‘Summer’ episode finds the Temperate House staff preparing the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse before it reopens to summer visitors. It's definitely one to watch if you're a fan of our greenhouse ideas. The episode also covers the topic of pollination, featuring interviews with scientists and showing how staff painstakingly hand-pollinate orchids. A visit to Wakehurst explores the team’s work to combat Ash Dieback, which is threatening the survival of ash trees across the UK and Europe.
The final episode, ‘Autumn’, visits the Kitchen Garden at Kew Gardens as produce is harvested for onsite restaurants, and viewers learn more about how scientists at RBG Kew are collecting wild relatives of major food crops to help ensure their survival. The Alpine team at Kew Gardens share behind-the-scenes insight as they care for the 7,000-strong Alpine bulb collection. As the winter winds hit Kew Gardens, viewers see how the Tree Gang tackles one of their toughest challenges yet, as they remove a fallen tree from the lake.
Richard Deverell, Director at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, commented: 'This year has been incredibly difficult for many visitor attractions, and we have most definitely felt this at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Watching this life-affirming series has reminded me of the many fabulous moments during 2020 which has been so dominated by the global pandemic. I am very proud to see how this new TV series shines a light on our staff and the important work they do to care for our collections and the vital research they undertake. They really are the backbone of our glorious organisation.'
Filmed by Curve Productions for Channel 5, the series was commissioned in 2019 and filming took place from January to October 2020.
Anna's background is in academic research – she is the author of London Writing of the 1930s, published by Edinburgh University Press. She is a keen urban gardener and has an impressive collection of house plants.
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