The Duchess of Cambridge has revealed her children helped provide some of the inspiration for her new garden – and much needed pinecones for a treasure hunt.
When Kate visited her Back to Nature garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, she could not hide her delight as she took young children associated with her charities on a tour.
And Prince George’s request for some stepping stones over a mini pool fed by a waterfall proved a hit with the youngsters, while Princess Charlotte helped her mum collect pinecones used for a treasure hunt.
At one point, Kate confided in a shy Khareesha James, eight, taking her into a fabric-covered den in the garden for a private chat – and told her she likes to hide in them when she is feeling shy.
Speaking afterwards, Khareesha said: “I am shy and she said that’s where she goes when she’s shy – in the tent.”
Kate designed the green space with landscape architects Andree Davies and Adam White, and the trio went beyond their recent Chelsea Flower Show garden they created together.
Their latest effort was bigger featuring a hill, bee-friendly meadow with tall grasses and flowers children could hide in, and the mini pool where youngsters could paddle.
After her garden tours with the children, Kate told Jake Catling, director of the Landscaping Consultants – a bespoke garden construction business which built the garden: “I loved it. So many of them loved hopping over the stone and that’s so nice to see.”
Mr Catling said after speaking to the duchess: “This was just a field and we brought in 18 articulated lorries worth of stuff in and we had a team of up to 20 people to build it.”
He added that Kate had requested the path across the water feature for George: “We made the stepping stones because Prince George wanted them. The kids loved jumping across it and it was down to Kate we got that in.”
The duchess visited the site near Kingston in south-west London last Tuesday to help with the planting, and Mr Catling said she had been a useful member of the team.
He said: “She was very hands on, it was fantastic. She came and did lots of planting and directing everyone around and got involved in the mulching."
The duchess has a longstanding interest in the early years development of children, and believes spending time outdoors plays a pivotal role in the future health and happiness of youngsters.
Kate first guided youngsters from local Hampton Hill Junior School supported by Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity, around her garden on an insect hunt, then took a group of children from Anna Freud Centre, Evelina Children’s Hospital and Action for Children for a tour.
She told some of the children pinecones had been hidden in the garden for them to find, adding: “There are eight, Charlotte helped me find them.”
The stepping stones proved a little taxing for Daniel Naghi, 10, from Hampton Hill, he said: “I slipped and fell and it started bleeding. One of the teachers came and gave me a plaster and I went straight back into the garden I loved it.
“The duchess who came to see us was really nice and I think she helped make the garden.
“She asked me about snails but I didn’t see any but loved the treasure hunt and think the garden is pretty good.”
His schoolmate Kane Dare, aged nine, said the duchess told him about an unusual visitor to the garden: “Kate said there were foxes in the garden which had left half eaten sandwiches.”