The Duchess of Cambridge took a hands-on approach to designing a garden she hopes will inspire families to get in touch with nature.
The Back to Nature Garden, designed by Kate and landscape architects Andree Davies and Adam White of Davies White Landscape Architects, is a woodland setting at the Chelsea Flower Show for families and communities to come together and connect with the outdoors.
Kate is a strong advocate for the benefits the outdoors has on physical and mental health, and the positive impact that nature and the environment can have on childhood development in particular.
She was involved in the project from the beginning and made numerous visits to the Chelsea Flower Show site once the building of the garden began.
The duchess even made a few trips to the suppliers, Ms Davies and Mr White said.
Asked if there was input from Kate’s three children, Ms Davies said: “We all brought our ideas to the table and shared them.”
Mr White said of Kate: “From the brief to the concept design to the sketches and model making, all the way through, to suppliers, nurseries, and all the materials in there, she’s been involved.”
Ms Davies added: “We’ve been out with her visiting places, to get ideas, we’ve been to some of the suppliers together.”
She said Kate joined them on a visit to a tree nursery to select the trees.
Moving on to when they began building the creation on site, Mr White said: “When the build starts on site, some of the designers don’t come down that often, some of them are quite sporadic.
“And when the duchess joined us, and it all started to come together, it’s quite addictive, it’s a bit of a bug, and you can’t keep away because we’ve worked so hard and put so much energy, the three of us.”
He added that while some of Kate’s visits were organised, she also phoned them and told them she was coming back again, saying: “I’ll be down later if it’s OK.”
The garden’s centrepiece is a high-platform tree house atop a chestnut trunk, clad in stag horn oak, hazel and larch cladding that draws inspiration from a bird or animal nest.
Mr White said the tree house weighs nine tonnes and was brought to London from Bristol, accompanied by a police escort.
A swing seat, which Kate, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis were photographed having a go on, hangs below the tree house.
Interaction with the natural environment will be encouraged through the garden’s “multi-sensory” green and blue plant scheme.
Kate remembered the late Diana, Princess of Wales by including forget-me-nots, her favourite flowers.
Among the blooms and foliage are blue periwinkle flowers, geraniums, astrantias, wild strawberry plants, ferns and rhubarb.
Trees planted in the garden include a weeping beech tree, which is an ideal base for building a den under branches.
Decking in the garden was created using reclaimed timber from Southend Pier.
“So much of the garden is having its second or third life,” Mr White said.
Kate’s involvement with the 2019 RHS garden at the Chelsea Flower Show was first revealed earlier in the year.