Garden designer Harry Holding has worked with pupils at a London primary school to create the RHS No Adults Allowed Garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024.
Through a series of eight workshops, two of which have already taken place, Holding has brought together a series of design ideas to create an unjudged garden that highlights how important it is for children to have access to nature.
A forest at the entrance, a meadow, a slide and a den are all ideas that made the cut, as well as carnivorous plants – though crocodiles, an underground lake and a café unfortunately had to be set aside.
Holding says it is a “real joy working with children, seeing how creative they are,” describing this garden as “the most joyous garden ever at Chelsea.” It will be built by Landscape Associates, which also constructed Holding’s School Food Matters garden at last year’s show. The garden, designed as an educational resource for children, won People’s Choice Award in its category, and Holding himself is a winner of Pro Landscaper’s 30 Under 30: The Next Generation awards.
The RHS No Adults Allowed Garden was named by the pupils of Sullivan School in Fulham, where the garden will be relocated after the show. Pupils of other schools in the local area will also be able to access the outdoor space, which can be limited at schools in central London. Sullivan School has had its own wild garden, built by pupils and their parents, since 1990 and outdoor learning and gardening is encouraged.
The idea for the garden arose after the RHS held its first children’s picnic last year, which the Duchess of Cambridge attended alongside 100 students.
RHS director general, Clare Matterson, says the garden “shows that gardening is for everybody and the RHS is absolutely committed to starting children as young as possible so that it can be there for their whole lives.” She added that the garden would act as a “great case study” for showing how gardening can be translated into other subject areas of the curriculum, such as maths, art and science. It’s “not just for RHS Chelsea but to make a big statement about gardening in schools.”
Matterson also announced that the RHS is entering a £3m, three-year partnership with Mohn Westlake Foundation to enable wider access to gardening.