The Duchess of Cambridge is co-designing a Chelsea Flower Show garden, and other planting displays at Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) events, to encourage the public to get back in touch with nature.
Kate is following in the footsteps of her father-in-law the Prince of Wales, whose passion for horticulture is well-known, by creating an RHS garden at Chelsea with two award-winning landscape architects.
The duchess described the Chelsea project as “very exciting” during a visit to a community garden in Islington, north London to mark the announcement of her collaboration with Andree Davies and Adam White.
The trio will create gardens for the RHS’ flower shows at Hampton Court Palace and Wisley and re-use their Chelsea garden plants to create a green space for an NHS Trust.
Ms Davies said the Chelsea garden had been inspired by childhood memories and they wanted to encourage all members of a family to connect in the green space.
She said: “It’s a lot to do with memories – her memories, her family’s memories – and trying to get generations to come together.
“Outdoor spaces are such a good place for all generations to come together because there are lots of things to do, and the garden will have activities so an adult and a child can play together.”
Mr White said their Chelsea project will be feature on the shows main avenue, and added: “The challenge we’ve got, the three of us, is to create a space that you feel like you’re in the middle of a woodland, to feel like you’re in a canopy, so you’ve got to create that out of nothing.”
Kate had brought up this concept known as “forest bathing”, Mr White added, where city workers can immerse themselves in a green space to combat the stress of work.
He said that during the past three months they had been working together the duchess had been a very “hands on” collaborator, who had brought cuttings and pictures to illustrate her ideas, joined in with creating models and was in regular contact with landscape architects.
During her visit to the King Henry’s Walk Garden in Islington the duchess chatted to local school children making an apple bird feeder and others creating pizzas that were cooked in an open air oven.
As Kate spread tomato sauce on a pizza base Nadirah, aged 8, asked if the Queen ate pizza and the royal replied she did not know but would find out.
Kate also met locals residents tending their small allotment plots and talked to dedicated volunteers who have been running the garden for more than 10 years, supported by Islington Council.
Landscape architect Adam White described how Kate asked to be a part of their future garden designs: “We always ask with a show garden ‘where will it go after the show?’ We want it to be up-cycled and re-cycled and she said ‘brilliant, because I’d love to be involved in your future projects’.
“So we’ll be doing a garden at Hampton Court Palace in the summer and from that we’ll be creating a permanent garden at RHS Wisley, again the three of us are designing together, and an NHS garden, so the plants from Chelsea will go to an NHS garden.”
He added that the Duchess was keen on using sustainably sourced materials in the Chelsea garden and wanted visitors to the green space to be able to take away practical ideas.
Creating a sensory experience that featured smell was an important idea the duchess and the two landscaper architects shared.
Mr White said they also wanted to raises awareness and tackle what is known as “nature deficit disorder”, a product of modern living indoors away from the natural world.
The phrase is used by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods which the duchess and her co-designers have read.
It puts forward the idea that spending time outdoors is essential to a healthy childhood which today is increasingly blighted by conditions like obesity, attention disorders, and depression.