The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew – Featured Reviews

As a nation of garden lovers, The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew hold a special place in the hearts of many and the following two books are a wonderful celebration of this very special place.

Both have captured the spirit and essence of the buildings, the surrounding area and the tradition and history associated with this unique place allowing past visitors to recapture memories and inspiring those who have never visited to make the journey.

Hello Kew  – Sophie Shillito

Description: Hello Kew is a stunning scrapbook of words and pictures which celebrates Kew’s souvenir guidebooks and recreates the experience of visiting Kew through the ages. This beautifully curated album of fascinating cuttings, charming pictures and intriguing stories allows readers to time-travel through Kew’s ancient landscape, glimpsing history and discovering the Gardens. It is a keepsake from the past, a souvenir from a trip to a time before ours, a book that celebrates the glory of Kew. Packed full of fantastic archival imagery including photographs, guidebooks, maps, postcards, ticket stubs and more, this beautiful gift book offers a fascinating social history of Kew.


This is an absolutely outstanding book, Sophie has gathered together souvenir guidebooks, photographs, postcards, maps, and created the most exquisite and evocative scrapbook celebrating the wonder of Kew.

‘Kew is composed of many different textures and fabrics – the river, the trees, the building, the earth, the plants – and it is not solely one of these things that speaks of the landscape, but rather their combined whole.  It is Kew’s inimitable mixture of grand vistas, woodland walks, deep water and shimmering glass that makes it Kew, and yet it is more than these things also – it is the colour, light and movement that are singularly peculiar to Kew, that are unique to this particular special place on Earth, a place unlike any other.’

What we particularly love about Hello Kew is Sophie’s use of language; not only does she write eloquently, but she has captured and included descriptions from bygone times. At the beginning of each chapter she has taken an historical fact and used her imagination to create moments from the past in the most beautiful and lyrical descriptions.

‘,Summer dies quickly and autumn arrives, shaking browned leaves from branches. Outside the Palm House, gardeners scratch holes with their fingers, poking bulbs beneath the black blanket and turning out the light; thinking of the warmer months when a thousand yellow tulips will raise their cups to toast the sweet spring rain.’ 

Sophie mentions that while she was researching this book she visited Kew almost every day and explains that when this happens you really begin to understand a place just like a person.

To intending visitors Sophie has this message

‘Kew is alive, it has a soul and a distinctive atmosphere which I have tried to capture in these pages…

Your visit to Kew, however brief, will alter it. Strands of your hair will be made into a bird’s nest, your breath will help a tree to grow, your footsteps will dimple the land. You will mark Kew in the same way it marks you, and you will leave part of yourself behind so your story is woven into the landscape too.

Floreat Kew! May Kew Flourish!’

Every page is full of fascinating information, or unique souvenir items linked to the past.

We absolutely love this very special book! Highly Recommended!

The Kew Sketch Journal – Charles Leon

Description: The Kew Sketch Journal is a stunning celebration of Kew Gardens and the local area through the eyes of artist and designer Charles Leon. Through this unique perspective, Charles shares with the reader the human relationship with buildings, built by people for people, used and visited, and a constant through decades and centuries.

Few places in the world have such a range of great architecture in such a relatively small area as Kew, and the author takes us on an architectural and historical journey around the Gardens and local area. The book covers everything from Kew’s great Victorian glasshouses the Palm House and Temperate House, through to modern additions such as the Princess of Wales Conservatory and Davies Alpine House, and other visitor attractions including Kew Palace, the Xstrata Treetop Walkway and Marianne North Gallery.

The author offers personal insights into his sketching journey around Kew, along with snippets of history about the buildings, all of which accompanies the stunning sketches in colour and black and white, making this a beautiful souvenir of the area.


What we love about Charles Leon’s delightful book is the way he has placed the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in the context of the local area, because a visit to the Gardens can also reveal some very beautiful buildings, shops and restaurants, both in Kew itself and just a little further away in Richmond.

In this unique compilation of sketches Charles shares his perspective of the buildings and architecture in both the Gardens and nearby buildings and as he describes, 

‘Sketching creates a bond between the observer and the object; the more we look, the more we see. Gradually as we slow down and look, we begin to understand a building’s history. A relationship forms. Sketching is my way of sharing my relationships with buildings with others.’

The book is structured around significant buildings including those when you first arrive in the area, exquisite sketches of the various gates around Kew, the bridges and then the magnificent buildings within the Gardens and concludes with examples of other beautiful architecture in the area.

Every page has a beautiful example of Charles’ sketches, mostly in black and white, but also some in colour and his double page spreads are particularly stunning.

The quality of production in this over-sized book is outstanding and Charles’s work is both informative and inspirational.

A wonderful example to add to your beautiful places to visit bookshelf! Highly Recommended!

Hello Kew  – Sophie Shillito  

The Kew Sketch Journal – Charles Leon

 Both are published by The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew