In week two of my two week stint at The a Royal Botanic Garden, Kew I was fortunate to find myself working in the iconic Palm House. Lucky me – especially as the weather was rather on the cool side this week! The result of a collaboration between the iron-founder Richard Turner (1798-1881) and the architect and garden designer, Decimus Burton (1880-1881), Kew’s Palm House was built between 1844-48, during the Victorian ‘age of iron’. Now the most famous curvilinear glasshouse in the world, the Palm House was constructed of iron and curved glass tinted green to provide the necessary shading. Burton decided on its location, siting it above ‘George III’s’ lake to take advantage of the mirror-like reflection. William Nesfield (1793-1880), landscape architect and artist, landscaped the surrounding grounds, positioning the Palm House at the focal point of two long vistas. Extensive restoration work was carried out to the building and heating system in the 1980s and the floor layout was modified to accommodate planting in beds rather than in pots and tubs, which had originally been the case. Today the Palm House has been planted as a one-habitat, tropical rainforest, with the planting designed to emulate the natural multi-layered style of the rainforest, with taller palms, trees and climbers forming a canopy above shorter dwarf palms and under-storey plants. Flora in the Palm House is divided into 3 distinct sections, with the central section devoted to American species and the South and North Wings dedicated to African flora and to flora from Asia, Australia and the Pacific respectively. Today conservation is an important part of the Palm House’s ethos, and the horticultural team endeavour to maintain a stock of endangered species grown from wild collected seed; several of the plants cultivated here are already extinct in their native habitats. Whilst I was working in the Palm House I was given ‘Africa’ to look after, which meant that in the first part of the day I would sweep the paths, water the plants and clear the leaves from the beds in the South Wing of the Palm House. After this I helped the team to do the annual winter prune on some of the plants in the centre section, at times using a cherry picker to reach the top of the plants. We even had to cut down one of the tallest palms which was threatening to make its way through the glass at the too of the Palm House!