Back to nature - by royal design
One of the gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London has won a big thumbs up from three royal rascals who marked it twenty out of ten. Princes George and Louis, and Princess Charlotte made good use of the Back to Nature garden, which their mother, The Duchess of Cambridge designed in conjunction with award winning landscape architects, Andree Davies and Adam White.
Kate said “I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits on our physical and mental wellbeing, particularly for young children.
“I really hope that this woodland that we have created inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.
“I believe that spending time outdoors when we are young can play a role in laying the foundations for children to become happy, healthy adults.”
Back to Nature is based in a woodland setting as a space for families and communities to come together and connect with nature. Key elements of the garden include a beautifully crafted hollow log for children to climb through, a den, waterfall, stream and tree house.
The tree house is the centrepiece of the garden and features a swing seat hanging from the branches, creating a place for children and families to play together. The waterfall and stream also encourage play – from floating sticks and chasing them along the stream to making dams with stones and sand to attract more wildlife.
Co-designers Davies and White, of Davies White Landscape Architects, say the Duchess was inspired by forest-bathing, the Japanese practice of walking slowly and thoughtfully in woodland to “bathe” in its peace and beauty and recharge the body’s batteries.
Wild trees and shrubs combined with a cool, calm colour palette of green and blue provide an instant 'nature fix' to relax and calm, while the playful and diverse planting includes edibles, plants for craft activities and forest scents, ranging from tiny wild strawberries to magnificent trees.
This space isn't just for people either – the flowers, fruits and seeds provide food for wildlife and nectar for bees and butterflies, while the plants offer nesting sites and shelter for birds and other animals.
Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We couldn’t be happier with the wonderful design by The Duchess of Cambridge and Andree and Adam for our garden at Chelsea this year.
“The RHS’s Garden is a beautiful natural space for families to get together, play, dig, grow plants, connect with nature and spend time in the great outdoors – something core to us as a charity to promote, inspire and encourage people to do.
“There are many sensory elements to help children to learn. Active play in the fresh air is also important for a child’s development and getting back to nature has been shown to be good for developing creativity, increasing physical activity and reducing stress.”
The RHS Back to Nature Garden is part of the RHS’s partnership with NHS England, which promotes the physical and emotional wellbeing that access to green spaces and gardening provides. After Chelsea, some of the planting and landscaping will go to an NHS Mental Health Trust, as part of a national competition run by the RHS.