How to popularise botany?: two crass routes spring to mind. The first is FLESH-EATING PLANTS. The second is DRUGS. Neither is open to a family attraction like The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. Well, OK, you could try for the flesh-eating plants thing, and in the past Kew have, but real actual flesh-eaters tend not to be the gibbous creeping jungle monsters of Tarzan comics: they are weeny, eat boring insects and have no pulpy maw worth the name.

I love Kew Gardens to bits. Great for picnics and walks, full of lovely little corners and walks, steeped in happy personal memories. The only problem is that the point of Kew – all the different plants and trees and that – takes a bit of a back seat when visitors like me treat it as a glorified park. The other problem in these days of market-driven attractions is that most Kew visitors are at the unsexy end of the age demographic. How to bring the kids in?

The answer seems to be to ignore the plants as much as possible (except inasmuch as you can climb on the big ones) and construct a bunch of other child-friendly attractions with a vague natural theme. The triumph here is the human-size badger sett: we took Isabel’s small cousins to see this the other weekend and they went MENTAL for it, running through the underground passageways and peering at the various wooden badgers. The sett is well-designed in that while adults (even me-size ones) can get in to look after their little mites they have to crouch and bump their heads and embarrass themselves, so the strong impression is that the Kid Is King. It took around 40 minutes for our two charges to exhaust themselves, by which point all badger-related aspects were well forgotten.

The potential drawback to all this is that Kew Gardens has always been a very tranquil place: too many kids and the core audience won’t be happy. Kew have created a kind of ring of activity around the gardens, keeping the center peaceful (the odd concert aside) and the edges as deserted as ever. For the moment, it’s working.