The 2024 Chelsea Flower Show will – for the very first time – feature a garden designed by children, for children. The No Adults Allowed garden “puts kids in the driving seat, creating a garden of fun and exploration”. It is part of the ongoing commitment by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), which runs the world-famous flower show, to make gardening and nature more accessible to young people. Meanwhile, Historic England launched a scheme earlier this year aimed at using archaeology to improve young people’s wellbeing. Both these initiatives encapsulate two ideas that underpin Life-Based Learning thinking: participation (that getting involved and doing something is a good thing and is itself beneficial to mental health) and empowerment (developing social and leadership skills by enabling young people themselves to be at the heart of decision-making).
The RHS invited pupils from Sulivan Primary School in Fulham to work alongside designer Harry Holding and together they created the brief and design for the garden. The RHS describes the No Adults Allowed garden as “a joyful journey through a fantastical landscape”. After the show, the garden will be relocated to the school. Other schools in the area will also be able to visit and use the garden.
The RHS promises that children will be able to explore the magic of lush woodland, bountiful meadows and a wetland with heightened colour and oversized bog plants. Their adventure will culminate at the final destination – a natural den, set within a pool of water. Sliding down into the water, this sunken, children-only space will be a sanctuary where they can play, learn and explore the natural world around them.
The RHS emphasises the importance of sustainability in creating the garden:
Children gardening and growing plants is both joyous and good for learning, development, and health and wellbeing. Like our Children’s RHS Chelsea Picnic, which will continue in 2024, I hope this garden will be a special experience for all the children involved, which ignites an interest in gardening that will be with them throughout their life.Claire Matteson CBE, director general of the Royal Horticultural Society
We have highlighted in previous blogs the great work of the RHS, an organisation that does much to encourage young people to connect with nature, not least through its fantastic Campaign for School Gardening scheme and other exciting initiatives.
Meanwhile, blogs such as Opening up the countryside focus on the beneficial effects of nature on our physical and mental wellbeing and of putting nature at the very heart of children’s lives. LBL prioritises not just learning about the natural world but also actually experiencing and enjoying nature and the environment.
We need to think long-term and how we educate future generations to live in harmony with the needs of the planet. Life-Based Learning prioritises young people learning about the environmental challenges we face and involves encouraging and empowering them to take practical action to promote sustainability and help make a difference.
In addition to helping protect the planet and its biodiversity, interacting with nature has wider benefits for children and young people – everything from improving physical and mental wellbeing to boosting confidence and self-esteem and developing teamwork and communication skills.
Image at the head of this article by Prashant Sharma from Pixabay.