RHS Director General negotiates with children co-designers of the ‘RHS No Adults Allowed Garden’ at RHS Chelsea Flower Show to secure grownup access

After some serious negotiating RHS Director General Clare Matterson has persuaded the co-designers of the RHS No Adults Allowed Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, pupils from Sulivan School, London, to agree that adults can enter the children’s garden if they pledge to do one of the three things:

  • Plant a Tree
  • Donate to RHS Campaign for School Gardening to help give other kids access to nature
  • Find a flower that starts with the first letter of their name

Adults will have to share what they’ve pledged at the world famous flower show to be given a special sticker designed by the children to allow access on to the first ever garden designed by children at the Show.   The RHS and Garden Designer Harry Holding have held numerous planning, design and creative sessions with children in the lead up to RHS Chelsea including planting up herbs, learning about balcony gardening and garden design, designing trophies and arts and crafts.

Clare Matterson CBE, RHS Director General said; “I’ve done some tough negotiating in my time and this was no walk in the park, but the children and the RHS are all delighted with the results.  The Sulivan school pupils came up with the three activities, which they’d like adults to pledge to do one of, and we’ll be asking visitors what they did or plan to do before they enter the garden at the show.  We know gardeners are a good bunch and so we trust that people will do what they pledge and it’s all in the name of having some fun too.

“The children, aged between 9 and 10, chose planting a tree as they know how important trees are for the future of this planet and how valuable they are for wildlife.  They came up with the idea to donate to RHS Campaign for School Gardening as they believe that all children in school should have access to gardening and nature knowing first hand the positive impact it has on their learning and development in school.  They also believe strongly that learning should be fun, hence the final activity option – to find a flower that begins with your name!”

The Children from Sulivan School said: “Originally, we only wanted children in the garden, so that we could keep it to ourselves and run around. But the class also wanted the world to see our hard work and how great a children’s garden could be. We thought we could use this opportunity as a chance to help the planet, convince other children to become gardeners and to have some fun. So we have agreed to allow adults in to the garden as long as they complete one of our pledges.”

The RHS No Adults Allowed Garden, designed by Harry Holding and the pupils from Sulivan School, is a joyful journey through a fantastical landscape where children - and now adults - can explore the magic of lush woodland, bountiful meadows and a wetland with heightened colour and oversized bog plants.

The adventure culminates at the final destination – a natural den set within a pool of water. Sliding down into the water, this sunken space is a sanctuary where they can play, learn, and explore the natural world around them.

Visitors will be able to donate to support RHS Campaign for School Gardening if they wish to whilst at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The RHS as part of its ‘A lifelong adventure with gardening’ Strategy to 2030, believes everyone’s adventure with gardening will be different and wherever and whenever it starts, the RHS will be there to support anyone, of any age or background, every step of the way. For children it wants to spark a curiosity with plants and nature through outdoor adventures to ignite a lifetime interest in gardening. 


Notes to editors

For more information, interviews and images please contact the Hayley Monckton or the RHS Press Office, [email protected]

A full line up of Show Gardens and Sanctuary Gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 can be found here:

RHS Chelsea Flower Show sponsored by The Newt in Somerset

Dates: 21-25 May 2024

Location: Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, SW3 4SR    

Tickets from £37.00 (plus admin fee)                                                                                                 

About the RHS

Since our formation in 1804, the RHS has grown into the UK’s leading gardening charity, touching the lives of millions of people. Perhaps the secret to our longevity is that we’ve never stood still. In the last decade alone we’ve taken on the largest hands-on project the RHS has ever tackled by opening RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Greater Manchester, and invested in the science that underpins all our work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science. 

We have committed to being net positive for nature and people by 2030. We are also committed to being truly inclusive and to reflect all the communities of the UK.  

Across our five RHS gardens we welcome more than three million visitors each year to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, our schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences.

Throughout it all we’ve held true to our charitable core – to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture –to share the love of gardening and the positive benefits it brings. For more information visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.