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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
'Kew's a delight at any age'
Pagoda, Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens packs 132 hectares of greenery into central London
News that Kew Gardens has been made a World Heritage site comes as no surprise to me, says BBC News Online's Christine McCarthy, who took her two young sons there recently.

"It's a huge park," I told my eldest son Owen, in a bid to encourage some enthusiasm as we sat in a long traffic queues in south west London.

Determination to show them the wonders of London's famous botanical gardens had been my inspiration to risk driving down the M1 from Bedfordshire and across central London to visit Kew on a warm Sunday.

Of course the word park mentioned to a four-year-old can't help but instil an image which includes a swing or two.

But Kew has steadfastly rejected the temptation to go down the road of being too obviously child-friendly and allows the natural surroundings to take the place of rides and entertainment.


Parking was surprisingly quick and easy on a busy and warm weekend.

Unfortunately the pace of entry did slow to begin with, due to a lack of people on the ticket office, and perhaps Kew needs to better appreciate its popularity.

Once inside Owen and my younger son Miles, aged two, could immediately let off steam and ran off into a wooded area to find a couple of sticks to take with them on the way round.

The Palm House is one of the highlights

All of us were hit by the space at Kew, flabbergasted that a park of this expanse fits into the crowded capital.

The boys soon forgot about the lack of their usual park equipment as we followed pathways leading to both familiar flowers and exotic and unusual plants.

Highlights were the Palm House - whose sights and sounds are amazing - as well as the area around the Orangery where you can sit and watch the wildlife by the lakeside.

Our two went home with happy smiles and pockets of plastic grubs, spiders and frogs we bought in the gift shop before departing.

The drive home was spent reliving the best bits and wishing we lived a bit nearer.

Kew is newest 'world wonder'
04 Jul 03  |  London
UN unveils new heritage sites
04 Jul 03  |  World
Police ridiculed over 'milkfloat'
21 Jul 02  |  England
Visitor numbers blossom at Kew
11 Jun 02  |  England

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