The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has embarked on its most ambitious design project in recent years with the creation of a giant new Children’s Garden due to open to the public on 18 May 2019. Covering 10,000m², it’s the size of nearly 40 tennis courts, and has been designed by a Kew garden designer around the elements that plants need to grow: earth, air, sun and water. Children will be able to play and explore as they wind their way through a landscape filled with over 100 mature trees, discovering hidden treasures and adventure, and developing their love of nature, plants and the outdoors along the way.
Children will enter the Garden through a tunnel of scented Star Jasmine plants before first arriving at a 200-year-old English Oak tree,surrounded by a new aerial walkway 4m above the ground. Here, the journey of discovering what plants need to grow begins! The first element to explore is the Earth Garden, a giant sand pit with a quirky play hut village surrounded by Bamboo plants and tunnel slides for muddy adventures.
Next along the trail is the Air Garden, with winding paths, giant windmill flowers, pollen spheres, hammocks, swings and trampolines. A mini amphitheatre nestled under the trees can be used for storytelling, and the seating area for parents keeping an eye on their little explorers lies in the shade of some of Kew’s oldest Eucalyptus trees.
The Sun Garden is next; a large open space where children can let their imagination run wild beside a ring of sunflowers, Cherry trees and pink candy floss grass. Intricate pergolas festooned with edible fruits will take children on a sensory adventure.
Lastly, the Water Garden, (sponsored by Thames Water) is filled with water pumps for kids to use to control the flow of the water through to another splash pool. Water lily stepping stones will engage children in the water cycle and why it is important to plants.
For those slightly older and more adventurous kids, a giant log scramble sits among the pine trees, waiting to be climbed. The challenge is to get across to the leaning tower without touching the ground!
Suzie Jewell, Children’s Garden Designer, RBG Kew said: “With the Children’s Garden we really hoped to design and create a unique space for children to play in, that would not only be fun and stimulate their imagination, but also give them a different perspective on how the plants grow and why they are so important. Part of what makes this space so special is that we had existing trees on site around which to map the paths and play areas – it became a play area among the trees – something different in London. I hope that this will lead to a deeper connection with nature and a lifelong love of plants.”
Work on the 10,000 m² site, which is close to the existing Climbers and Creepers indoor play space and the White Peaks family café, began in October 2017, and was inspired by the desire to encourage kids to develop a lasting relationship with and love for plants and nature. The site already had 62 mature trees in place, including Eucalyptus and Sweet Chestnuts, and a further 40 mature trees were added to this space, including Gingko and Pines.These ‘old giants’ are part of what makes this Garden unique and will capture the imagination of kids and adults alike as they explore the pathways and different elements of the Garden.
Sandra Botterell, Director of Marketing and Commercial at RBG Kew said: “The new Children’s Garden is a wonderful addition to the Kew landscape and will add real value to the family experience, giving young visitors the opportunity to see nature in a new way. Spaces like this are essential for children to grow and develop a relationship with plants,understand their importance, as well as to have fun.”
Funding for this project has come from private donations and corporate sponsor Thames Water. Fundraising is continuing to complete the project.