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Kew Returns to Channel 5

A new six-part TV-series, Kew Gardens: A Year in Bloom, will return to Channel 5 this July, following the work of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Channel 5 were given unprecedented access to film at both Kew Gardens and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, taking viewers behind the scenes, giving an exclusive glimpse of what makes Kew so special.

Over a year, cameras witness the changing seasons and meet the teams who care for the plants, create the incredible displays, perform world-changing scientific research and have to deal with everything from catastrophic storms to more than two million visitors a year. Building on the stories from the first series which aired in 2021, the series highlights include rare blooms skilfully cared for by Kew horticulturists, one of which flowers for the first time in ten years; follows how Wakehurst is transformed into a living laboratory as Kew scientists work hard to battle climate change; whilst back at Kew, scientists seek to secure the coffee plants of the future and the much-loved ‘tree gangs’ also return to the screen scaling steep ravines at Wakehurst and contending with ducks scuppering their plans at Kew Gardens.

Richard Deverell, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew says;

“The first series of Kew Gardens: A Year in Bloom was very popular, so naturally we were eager to work with Channel 5 on series two. We have been filming this second series since last September following the rich variety of work in our organisation, showcasing skilled horticulturists nurturing our plants across two sites and scientists helping to uncover the power of plants for food, fuel or medicine. Nature really does hold the most incredible power in its hands. I am proud of how this series provides a glimpse into the work we do and how our staff shine so brightly. I hope it prompts many people to make a visit this year.”

Episode 1

It’s early spring in Kew Gardens and daffodils, crocus and magnolia are bringing out the visitors in search of the first colour of the year. Also making a fresh start is Simon Toomer, the new head of living collections who has the massive job of evaluating nearly 17,000 different plant species in the gardens to decide what stays and what goes. Meanwhile Paul Rees is doing a health check on the tuber of a dormant titan arum, a perennially popular plant that produces a huge flower that smells of rotting flesh.

Kevin Martin is also embracing change as he takes over as Kew’s chief tree guardian, head of the arboretum. He’s using sophisticated technology to see what is happening inside some sickly trees… that is if the £5000, computerised sonic hammer behaves itself.

The ten-storey tall Great Pagoda reopens for the spring season, and we get a guided tour with Rachel from Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that cares for this unique building. She tells us all about its history, from playground for Princess Augusta in the 1700s, being used for testing bombs in WW2, through to the cutting-edge restoration that has returned dragons to its rooftop and the whole structure to its former glory.

Alberto shows us Spring in the glasshouses, and we see the unusual emperor alcantarea go out in a blaze of glory. It grows two meters in two weeks and then produces strange spikey flowers for the first time in its 20-year life – but this is the last thing it does before dying.

Meanwhile at Kew’s sister site, Wakehurst, Conservation Supervisor Steven is keeping ancient skills alive; he is coppicing hazel trees and using the wood to create hedgerows. Leaping into the 21st century, Chris is making a withdrawal from Wakehurst’s high-tech Millennium Seedbank. He is thawing deep-frozen seeds for Alice in the nursery, who brings them back to life and takes the resulting coastal plants down to the Brighton seafront as part of a multimillion-pound effort to return lost plant life to the area.

Filmed by Curve Productions for Channel 5, the series was commissioned in 2021 and filming took place from September to June 2022.

Watch live on Tuesday 19 July at 8pm

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This story was published on: 08/07/2022

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