King George III didn’t particularly like opening his Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, southwest of London, to the general public back in 1776. Although only open once a week, the king said he could notice the difference the next day.
“They seem so dirty,” he quipped of visitors.
But with a bunch of revolutionaries across the Atlantic making his life miserable, he had other things to think about. It would be hard to imagine what King George would think of this emerald jewel more than 230 years later, with its thousands of commoners — Just think of it! Commoners! — walking the gardens solo, in couples, in families, in school groups, every day, enjoying more than 300 acres of flora, both native and foreign. The king wouldn’t like it. Tough luck. Kew Gardens, as it is known, might not be the biggest botanic gardens in the world, but it is one of the oldest. And for those interested in natural beauty, it is one of England’s must-see destinations.