Reviewed by Ian Mowll and Stephen Wollaston aka Santoshan.


Ten minutes’ walk from London’s Kew Gardens Station are the botanical gardens themselves. Founded in the late 19th century, Kew is London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site, which holds the world’s largest collection of living plants and consists of various well-known glasshouses that are surrounded by expansive green areas where such things as a Bamboo Garden and large Rock Garden can be found. Some of the famous glasshouses are the massive Temperate House that holds a significant collection of threatened island flora from some of the Earth’s most remote locations, including the Island of Saint Helena, and the Pitcairn and Juan Fernández Islands. There is also the small Waterlily House where the world’s largest waterlily leaves and flowers can be seen, and the Palm House with its amazing collection of tropical rainforest plants and trees. Additionally, there is the Princess of Wales Conservatory that incorporates a series of different ecosystems from deserts-based environments to tropical ones. It is impossible to see everything in one visit. For me, Kew is an amazing haven filled with many wonders that I love to revisit every few years in order to be healed from the stresses of city-life and find profound peace and inspiration by simply being there and absorbing Nature’s awesome creative work and beauty.

~ Stephen


Tucked to one side of the extensive Kew Gardens is the Agius Evolution Garden. This shows the evolutionary journey of plants and fungi since they appeared on our planet through to today. The garden has different areas for each of the main evolutionary categories of plants as shown in this picture:

We see from this picture that ferns were one of the earliest plants to evolve and were prolific in primordial forests. Roses were late developers in evolutionary terms. DNA research has thrown up some surprises, for instance it is now known that roses and nettles are closely related.

This research into the evolution of plants and fungi can have many practical applications from developing new medicines, increasing food production and helping to create climate-resilient cities.

This Evolution Garden helped to give me an overview of plants and fungi and makes me want to know more about our amazing plants and how they are all part of one interrelated family. I am deeply thankful to the dedication of Kew Gardens’ researchers who bring to life our evolutionary journey and help me to understand the magnificence and abundance of life on our planet.

~ Ian