Kew Gardens

Fabulous Christmas gift ideas: Green fingers

Feast your eyes on part one of our ultimate Christmas gift guide: this week, terrific toys for boys and girls, foodie treats, addictive gadgets, literary treasures and much more…

A cracking piece of design: Keeping Temperate House at Kew Gardens

Horace Walpole, self-appointed arbiter of mid-18th-century architectural taste, didn't think much of efforts to add a voguish dash of the Picturesque to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. As the construction of Sir William Chambers' 10-storey Chinese Pagoda soared so high it could be seen from the antiquarian's lawns at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, he scornfully observed that "in a fortnight you will be able to see it from Yorkshire". Sir William's mock Roman ruins were similarly derided for being made from "Act-of-Parliament brick".

Caught on camera: 150 years of life in Britain

Like flicking through a family album, perusing a photographic archive of people and events throws up forgotten gems and moments of affectionate nostalgia. And the occasional embarrassment.

Celia Birtwell: How soft furnishings differ from fashion

The difference between designing for the home and for fashion is enormous,’ Celia Birtwell told me in an exclusive interview. ‘Fashion moves so fast and is so demanding that there is little time to rest and take stock. 'Home' has longevity.’ Five decades on, textile designer Birtwell is back at the forefront of both the fashion and the interior industries. This autumn, she launches an online shop, and a home collection including readymade curtains, bed linen and a retro oilcloth for John Lewis.

Sound art: Artists of the new wave

Susan Philipsz's sonic installations have been nominated for the Turner Prize – and sound art is taking over galleries across the land. It's time to sit up and listen, says John Kieffer

Spring's essential garden gear

With spring upon us and optimists predicting a long hot summer, Kate Watson-Smyth presents a roundup of the season's must-have accessories

Kew's giant fungi collection

The biggest collection of fungi in the world will be created this week as Kew Gardens takes delivery of more than 400,000 specimens.

More headlines

Butterfly spotting with The Independent

Go down to Kew in lilac time, wrote the poet Alfred Noyes in a ditty called The Barrel Organ, singing the praises of the blossoms and the birds in the Royal Botanic Gardens at the height of the spring. Shame he didn’t mention the butterflies.