Monday, 20 May 2019

The Duchess Introduces the Queen to 'Back to Nature'

It was a decidedly royal affair for the preview of this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It's particularly special for the Duchess of Cambridge, as she was delighted to introduce her garden 'Back to Nature' to the Queen and other members of the Royal family.

We've been quite literally spoiled in the run up to this evening, with a selection of candid photos, behind-the-scenes updates, and of course seeing the Cambridge children playing. In a video released by the Palace this morning, the Duchess spoke about the inspiration and process: "It really ties into some of the early years work I've been doing, and I've been really trying to learn about the impact, the importance and relationship of our early childhood experiences on our later adult life. An amazing fact I learned recently was that 90% of our adult brains are developed before that age of five. That's why I think it's so important that all of us whether we're parents or carers or families members really engage in quality time with children and babies from a really, really young age. I really hope this woodland we've created, in a huge collaboration, really inspires families and kids and communities in general to get outside. Enjoy nature. Enjoy the outdoors and really spend quality time together."

The Duke and Duchess arriving this evening.

In a letter to experts revealed over the weekend, the Duchess wrote: "In recent years I have focused 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. There are undoubtedly challenges in trying to bring about the transformation that will make positive change for generations to come, and help break the inter-generational cycle of disadvantage and trauma, yet I am inspired every day by the people I meet and am committed to supporting this endeavour. I hope my long-term commitment to working in the early years will help make a difference over a generational timescale."

In January, it was announced the Duchess had spent several months co-creating the RHS 'Back to Nature' garden. Inspired by childhood memories of the natural world and moments that will be created by families in the future. The vision for the garden was to recapture for adults "the sense of wonder and magic" they enjoyed outdoors as children. It is understood the Cambridges' Norfolk bolthole Anmer Hall and Kate's childhood served as inspiration.

The woodland garden is a treat for families in which to play, learn and explore the joys of the outdoors. Let's take a look at the completed project.

More from the RHS: "The tree house, the centrepiece of the garden, is constructed from a beautiful tree with a high platform clad in stag horn oak. A swing seat hangs from the branches, creating a place for children and families to play together. A waterfall and stream offer places to paddle, relax and build dams, while a hollow log presents a challenge of learning to balance as well as to climb."

The pebble-lined stream runs through the garden.

The plants featured include edible produce, plants for craft activities, nectar to attract pollinators and food for wildlife.

A calming green and blue colour palette offers a relaxing space to unwind.

The RHS revealed: "The RHS Back to Nature Garden is key to the RHS’s partnership with NHS England, promoting the physical and emotional wellbeing that access to green spaces and gardening provides. After RHS Chelsea Flower Show, much of the planting and some of the landscaping will go to Devon Partnership NHS Trust Dewnans Centre, as part of a national competition run by the RHS. National Clinical Director for Mental Health, NHS England, Tim Kendall said: "This amazing gift from the RHS has the potential to really touch the lives of staff, patients, and their families at the trust, offering people with the most severe and complex mental health difficulties hope, purpose and sanctuary."

According to royal reporters on the scene, Kate was particularly excited to show the Queen 'Back to Nature'. Emily Andrews reports: "Before Her Majesty arrived, Kate quickly swept the garden for stray leaves and stuffed a dead branch into her handbag (& gave it to an aide) as there wasn’t a bin! Kate’s last minute sweep of her garden paid off. “It’s very tidy” remarked the Queen as she walked past the perimeter. HM chuckled when William showed her the Reed boats Kate and the schoolkids has made earlier. Kate was endearingly nervous at first and William held back as she led."

The Duchess discussed elements of the garden with the Queen. Lizzie Robinson noted Kate incorporated memories from the Queen's life "including carrots and beetroot which she remembers planting as a girl."

Established in 1913 on the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has become one of the world’s greatest showcases for horticultural excellence, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe. Since its beginning, the show has gone from strength to strength. It has grown from 244 exhibitors in 1913 to over 500 today, including gardens, nurseries, floristry, educational displays and trade stands.

The Chelsea Flower Show is a staple on the royal calendar thanks to Her Majesty's patronage of the Royal Horticultural Society, and the show has been attended by countless royals over the years. Since the Queen's ascension to the throne in 1952, she has only missed it five times. It's an event she dearly loves and I imagine it's extra special to have a garden by a member of the family. Kate's garden continues a tradition started by her father-in-law. In 2002, Prince Charles co-designed a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in memory of the Queen Mother. Prince Harry co-created a garden in 2013 for Sentebale. In 2015, Prince Harry enlisted Matt Keightley to create the 'Hope in Vulnerability' garden based on the flowers of Lesotho.

Kate introduces Her Majesty to co-designers Andree Davies and Adam White of Davies White Landscape Architects.

More from the Mail Online:

'As they departed, the Queen remarked: 'Very interesting.' Kate was heard to say: 'Thank you very much, Your Majesty. We will see you later.' There was also a comedy moment when the director general of the RHS, Sue Biggs, remarked to the Queen, 'You didn't fancy a go?' - thought to be in reference to the garden's rope swing, which Kate and her children had all swung on the day before.'

The Countess of Wessex was eager to visit the treehouse.

The Duchess gives Princess Beatrice a tour.

A video from the evening.

Kate selected the very pretty Erdem 'Shebah' dress for the event (with thanks to Danielle Stacey).

The floral, cotton-silk dress is crafted of white cotton-silk voile printed with a multicoloured floral pattern. It's described as: "Showcasing the Victorian influence on the British label, this high-neck style is accented with white crocheted lace and raw-edge ruffled trim. High neck. Three-quarter-length sleeves." The print worked very well with the background of the green hues in the garden.

Several of you noted the print appears to feature forget-me-nots, Diana's favourite flower, which is included in 'Back to Nature'.

Kate wore her Castaner Carina wedges.

The Duchess accessorised with her Cassandra Goad Cavolfiore Pearl Studs. The £4,360 pair are described as "set with seven pearls set with diamonds (0.3cts). Inspired by the clusters of young flower stalks of the cauliflower (cavolfiore) in the market. From the Journey to Sicily".

And her Cartier watch.

I really enjoyed hearing Kate speak to Monty Don on the BBC's RHS Chelsea Flower Show earlier this evening. She toured the garden with him and spoke about the process of choosing the trees in the winter and her belief in encouraging families to spend more time outside. She spoke about how much she loves spending time outdoors as a family, cooking and sourcing materials from her own garden. She said she used "a lot of the bits I've been collecting with kiddies". Kate added she "gets as much enthusiasm making dens" as the children. And when asked if the children love playing outside she said: "Yes, they love it. Poor things are dragged outside, rain or shine." Kate revealed the lasting impact of walking through the bluebells with her grandmother as a child inspired the colour palette. I thought Monty Don a great choice of interviewer; he's a passionate advocate for the positive effects of gardening on mental health. The royals walk a fine line between their personal selves and official roles; I thought the interview was very Kate. It was great to see her talk so candidly and openly. If a video emerges, I'll add it here.

It's been a complete treat to follow the process of 'Back to Nature' since January. I think posting updates regularly was an excellent way of sharing the process step by step. Hearing directly from Kate in the video, the BBC piece and the open letter published in relation to early years offered a very personal touch which added an extra layer to this endeavour. Kate immersed herself in this project, and it was an ideal fit for her, marrying her love of the outdoors with her early years work. She's relished it, visiting almost every day over the past week. It's filled with personal touches and I imagine seeing her own children playing in it was a very special moment. I love seeing the Royal family out in force supporting one another, which we saw in spades this evening. The garden and the thought process behind it are fantastic.

Well done Kate, you should be immensely proud of 'Back to Nature'. George is certainly proud of Mum :)

This is not the end of Kate's gardening efforts though; she will continue her collaboration with Davies White for the remainder of the year. The trio will co-design two further RHS Gardens, maintaining many of elements from the Garden at Chelsea, at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (2-7 July 2019) and RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, which will open in the autumn later this year.

Kate Hopes 'Back To Nature' Encourages "Quality Time Outside For Families"

The Duchess of Cambridge returned to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this morning to show a group of children her garden.

The visit was an opportunity to see the benefits of the garden in action with a group of children and a chance to thank the group of collaborators involved in the project since its inception.

The Palace shared an excellent video of Kate discussing the garden and the importance of nature.

Kate said: "It really ties into some of the early years work I've been doing and I've been really trying to learn about the impact, the importance and relationship of our early childhood experiences on our later adult life. An amazing fact I learned recently was that 90% of our adult brains are developed before that age of five. That's why I think it's so important that all of us whether we're parents or carers or families members really engage in quality time with children and babies from a really, really young age".

The Duchess continued: "I really hope this woodland we've created, in a huge collaboration, really inspires families and kids and communities in general to get outside. Enjoy nature. Enjoy the outdoors and really spend quality time together". 

The Duchess also discussed scientific research and the skills children learn outside "It's really an open playground".

Kate climbs the treehouse.

A helping hand.

Kate and the children enjoyed an array of outdoor activities including reed boat baking and marshmallow toasting.

A closer look at the leafy display.

Kate chose boulder hopping in the Lake District as a treasured childhood memory.

The Duchess posed for a photo with the group.

The Duchess with landscape architects Andree Davies and Adam White, of Davies White Landscape Architects. The trio have worked closely since last autumn to make their dream for 'Back To Nature' a reality.

On Instagram, the Palace thanked all those who joined Kate.

A fun video from the visit.

In case you missed it, the Palace shared a fantastic video from the Cambridge family visit yesterday. It's full of moments featuring the children playing and having fun. At one point, William asks Charlotte if she wants to help George and she replies "No". She also says "Ooh la la" whilst exploring. George is seen climbing rocks and pointing out elements to William (he's such a big boy now). And don't miss Louis making a beeline for the camera :)

More from the Mail Online:

'Meanwhile Kate's children, Prince George, five, Princess Charlotte, four, and Prince Louis, one, were actively involved in collecting twigs, logs and moss from around Anmer Hall, their Norfolk home. They built a rustic tepee-style den and fire pit at the heart of the garden. 'They've been involved every step of the way and the duchess was excited for them to see the finished result,' said an aide. Children – both hers and others – have always been at the heart of this project.' 

Hello! reports:

'The Duchess of Cambridge has admitted her children surprised her during their visit to her woodland garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. When she returned to the garden on Monday morning to show it to a group of schoolchildren, Kate revealed: "The children played last night in a way I hadn't imagined. They were throwing stones. I hadn't actually thought that that was what they would be doing.
"They kicked their shoes off, and wanted to paddle in the stream… using it in a way that I hadn't anticipated," she added.
As she helped children from two local primary schools make little boats from reeds and launch them into the stream, Kate got down on her knees and told them: "Now we need sticks to get these ones going."
Later as she sat by the fireside helping the youngsters to thread marshmallows on to sticks to toast over the fire, she said "I love the smell of the smoke," she said. "It's great, isn't it?" One girl, Maya Bell-Springer, six, from Christ Church primary school in Battersea, who was sitting in a mini-den made of hazel sticks, beamed with delight as she said: "It is lovely and relaxing." She said afterwards: "She helped me cook my marshmallows. It was awesome."

We've seen several casually stylish ensembles from Kate this week. 

This morning, she wore the elegant Mabel Shirt by M.I.H. Jeans. The $325 broderie anglaise piece features scallop trim on the neck and puffed sleeves. The delicate floral detail is very pretty. It's currently available at Orchard Mile.

Kate teamed the shirt with a pair of buttoned culotte trousers by Spanish brand Massimo Dutti (with thanks to April Girl). 

Kate's belt is an older Massimo Dutti style (with thanks to Middleton Maven).

The Duchess opted for her comfortable Superga Cotu Sneakers. They are available in multiple colours at Nordstrom.

Kate accessorised with her £135 Monica Vinader Siren Wire earrings.

And Cartier watch.

The Duchess will return later today with the Queen and other members of the royal family.

Kate's Favourites