Boom in visitors to botanic gardens

More visitors flocked to Wakehurst - the country arm of Kew Gardens at Ardingly - last year than at any time over the past five years.

Figures out this week reveal that 18 per cent more visitors went to the National Trust-owned property than in 2016.

The figures are revealed by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions which shows the number of people attending visitor attractions across the UK.

They show that Wakehurst rose 10 places in the association’s table, with higher numbers of children and families visiting, as well as those joing as ‘Friends of Wakehurst.’

Wakehurst director Tony Sweeney said: “We are delighted with our figures and see this as a marker that more people are enjoying all that Wakehurst has to offer.

“We are constantly striving for excellence and have invested in new areas for our visitors to enjoy. Recently we have opened up Westwood Valley revealing magnificent views; increased our wild play areas for children with the installation of Tree Trunk Trek; and introduced exhibitions such as Secret Structures – inside the story of plants and fungi, to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.

“And, a newly designed Winter Garden is in the final stages of being planted with 33,000 plants that will begin to flourish later this year.”

He said that Wakehurst staff were excited about the future and would take every opportunity ‘to inspire more adults and children to come and learn about nature, science and conservation and its importance for the future.’

He added: “The huge popularity of the Glow Wild, Wakehurst’s evocative winter lantern festival, as well as the Kew Science Festival at Wakehurst, Bountiful Botanics and Wild Wood festivals have all played their part in this success.”