To highlight the benefits of the natural world and inspire children, families and communities to enjoy the great outdoors, The Duchess of Cambridge co-designed the RHS Back to Nature Garden.
The garden builds on The Duchess of Cambridge's passion for the outdoors and the proven benefits that nature has on physical and mental health.
The Duchess is a strong advocate for the positive impact that nature and the environment can have on childhood development.
In designing this garden alongside landscape architects Davies White, The Duchess continues to highlight how being active in nature can positively impact our physical and mental health.
The garden is inspired by elements of The Duchess’s childhood and by more recent memories with HRH’s own children, with the garden recapturing the sense of wonder and magic that adults enjoyed as children when exploring outside.
The Royal Family and The Chelsea Flower Show
The Royal Horticultural Society, of which The Queen is Patron, organises the annual Chelsea Flower Show.
The event has celebrated horticultural excellence since its inception in 1913 and has been visited by members of the Royal Family for many years, including The Queen’s grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary in 1930.
The Queen has had a long relationship with the Chelsea Flower Show; here, Her Majesty admires the gardens in May 1971.
The Queen enjoys another visit to the in 1994.
In 2009, Her Majesty presented The Prince of Wales with the Royal Horticultural Society's most prestigious award, the Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH), at the Chelsea Flower Show.
10,000 stems were used to create this tribute to Her Majesty on her 90th Birthday in 2016.
The Queen joined The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to view the RHS Back to Nature Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Plans for the garden
The Duchess of Cambridge, Andrée Davies and Adam White (of Davies White Landscape Architects), and the RHS revealed plans for their ‘Back to Nature Garden’ in February 2019. The woodland wilderness garden aimed to get people back to nature, and highlight the benefits of the natural world on our mental and physical wellbeing.
To inspire families to get outside and explore nature together, the garden was designed to have a natural woodland feel and contain lots of unique design features.
The garden’s centrepiece was a high platform tree house, clad in stag horn oak that is inspired by a bird or animal nest, providing a wonderful place to retreat and look out through the trees.
The design includes many natural elements that aim to stimulate active play, promoting the benefits of laying the foundations of physical health from a young age. Tree stumps, stepping stones and a hollow log will test and improve children’s balance, strength and co-ordination.
It is proven that nature is good for wellbeing, so the garden is aiming to inspire interaction with the natural environment through its multisensory, green and blue plant scheme. The garden will be filled with incredible edibles, plants for craft activities, forest scents and a diverse range of plants, shrubs and trees of different heights and textures. A waterfall and stream will provide another sensory opportunity for children to paddle in and play imaginatively.
The garden hopes to trigger memories of time spent in nature, and encourage others to go out and create new experiences in the great outdoors.
Final preparations for the Garden
Speaking ahead of the garden's unveiling, The Duchess of Cambridge said:
“In recent years I have focussed much of my work on the early years, and how instrumental they are for outcomes later in life. 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.”
Features of the garden included a swing seat hanging below the garden’s centrepiece, a high platform tree house, encouraging creative play and discovery for all generations.
The high platform tree house is inspired by a bird or animal nest and provides a wonderful place to retreat and look out through the trees. The treehouse is made from chestnut, with hazel, stag horn oak and larch nest cladding.
Ahead of the first day of the Chelsea Flower Show, The Duchess of Cambridge introduced the Back to Nature garden to her family.
I really hope that this woodland that we have created really inspires families, kids and communities to get outside, enjoy nature and the outdoors, and spend quality time together.
The Duchess of Cambridge
On the first day of the Chelsea Flower Show, The Duchess showed local schoolchildren around the Back to Nature Garden.
The Duchess also took the opportunity to thank the incredible team of collaborators who have been involved in the project.
Later on in the day, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge introduced The Queen to the Back to Nature Garden.
Following its success at the Chelsea Flower Show, The Duchess's RHS Back to Nature Garden transferred to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.
Inspired by the original Chelsea design, the Hampton garden was double the size and includes new playful features to stimulate engagement with nature and free play, including a hill, a bee friendly meadow and a pond to paddle in.
Her Royal Highness invited children from her patronages to a picnic in the garden. Children from the Anna Freud Centre, Evelina Children’s Hospital, Action for Children and Place2Be joined Her Royal Highness in a treasure hunt and insect spotting activity.
The Duchess of Cambridge opened the Back to Nature play garden at RHS Wisley, and attended the Back to Nature festival with RHS Ambassador Mary Berry, celebrating the value of communities to our wellbeing and marked the culmination of the RHS garden project.
The Back to Nature play garden was inspired by The Duchess’s designs and includes elements such as the hollow log from the Chelsea Flower Show garden, and the wildflower meadow and rolling hill showcased at RHS Hampton.
At the Back to Nature Festival The Duchess was joined by many of the charities and organisations she has met over the last eight years, who are all working every day to make our families and communities stronger.