The Biggest Glasshouse on Earth

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London has many extraordinary sights but one of the most impressive must be the world’s biggest Victorian glasshouse at Kew Gardens. The last five years has seen a major redevelopment project underway which has finally been completed, resulting in the re-opening of the Temperate House. The whole of the Grade I listed structure was stripped to its bare bones and given a total overhaul.

It reopened to the public at the beginning of this month and can boast some highly impressive statistics with regards to its restoration. Over 5,000 litres of paint were needed to cover an area the equivalent of four football pitches! In total, 15,000 panes of glass were replaced. If you need your windows replacing, thankfully it shouldn’t involve that many panes of glass! For Double Glazing Gloucester, visit https://www.firmfix.co.uk/

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The reason for such a colossal glasshouse is to house Kew Garden’s collection of some 10,000 plants from temperate climates around the globe. These are geographical areas that don’t see frost. The importance of this collection is that it is a final refuge for 1,500 of the most threatened plants species on earth. One example of a species being protected is the South African Encephalartos woodii. This tree has completely disappeared from the wild and is now only to be seen in botanic gardens and plant lovers’ private collections.

Only male trees of this species survive, with private collection trees being a clone of the one looked after at Kew Gardens which was collected during the 1800s. Many plants contain both male and female parts for reproduction, but this tree needs a female counterpart to produce seeds. The hunt is still on for a female cycad plant to be bred with the Encephalartos woodii, also known as the loneliest tree in the world. The importance of protecting these plants and trees is huge. With only a few surviving in the wild, just one fire, earthquake or monsoon could wipe them out forever.

Here are some more incredible facts about the biggest glasshouse on earth:

The five-year restoration project cost £41,000,000.

Almost 70,000 separate pieces of structure had to be removed from the structure and then cleaned, fixed or replaced.

The project involved the replacement of 15,000 panes of glass.

110 miles of scaffolding was needed to complete the project. This is the equivalent to the length of the entire M25 motorway.

Using a crane, over 100 urns had to be lifted from the building to be restored.

The project took 1,731 days and involved 400 staff and contractors.

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