Children play judge at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Primary schoolchildren have played junior judges at this year’s Show announcing the first winner of the new RHS Children’s Choice Award

Winning garden receives award

The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust is Children’s Choice

Nine London primary schools were invited to the world’s most famous horticultural event and decided to award the first ever RHS Children’s Choice Award to The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust, on the opening day of the show.

Riley Garvey, age 11, Christchurch Primary, says: “I chose this garden because I like how there’s a lot of things you don’t find out until later on. The planting is on point and it looks like they spent a lot of time on it.”

Special judging criteria

Children’s picnic

Miya Beale-Springer, age 11, Christchurch Primary, says: “I love how certain areas provide more shade than others. The seats just sit with the theme really well and you can see that the planting has attracted a lot of wildlife. I can see bees and bugs everywhere.”

After enjoying a picnic lunch, the 72 junior judges set off in groups to assess the eight Show Gardens with a series of questions:

  • Is the garden a good place to play?
  • Is the garden attractive to wildlife?
  • How does the garden make you feel?
Junior judges assessing gardens
Designer of the WaterAid Garden, Tom Massey welcomed the challenge of having children judge the garden. “It’s great that the kids are judging this year. All gardens should be designed with children in mind to some degree,” said Tom.

Children on the No Adults Allowed GardenAs well as judging the eight Show Gardens, the junior judges  visited the RHS No Adults Allowed Garden, designed by pupils from Sulivan Primary School in South West London, which demonstrates that gardening is for everyone, regardless of age. 

Growing young gardeners

The junior judges were chosen for their passion for growing through gardening clubs, growing their own food, and exploring ways to encourage wildlife into their grounds. All schools are part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, which provides teachers with free resources, training and support to get more young people gardening. It is hoped that the experience at the show will bolster the children’s love of gardening and nature, particularly as many of the pupils do not have easy access to a garden or green space at home.

Ann-Marie Powell, award-winning garden designer, says: “I couldn’t be more delighted. These are the gardeners and the horticulturists of the future and exactly the sort of people we want to be running all over our (RHS The Octavia Hill Garden) garden.

“It’s a community garden so it was designed with children in mind but not in an obvious way. We don’t need swings and slides always. This is all about plants and nature and them absolutely falling in love with that from as early an age as possible.”

Read more: Deal struck to allow adults on to kids-only garden
RHS Director General, Clare Matterson, says: “The decision to include children as judges at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show reflects our commitment to cultivating a lifelong passion for gardening. The RHS Children’s Choice Award champions the unique perspective of young people and highlights the importance of nurturing a connection between children and the natural world.”

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