RHS Chelsea: Winner of the first ever Children's Choice award announced

children at the chelsea flower show who have been judging the gardens
RHS Chelsea: Children's Choice Award winnerLee Charlton

In a first for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, children have judged the Show Gardens to determine the winner of an all-new RHS Children's Choice Award.

The junior judges decided to award the first ever Children's Choice Award 2024 to the Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust.

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.'

Meanwhile, Miya Beale-Springer, also 11 and from the same school, 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.'

The judging process at any RHS Show is a rigorous one, in which a group of esteemed judges from the horticultural world follow strict point-scoring criteria to award Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver and Bronze medals, plus the Best in Show accolade, to the participating garden designers. Although arguably, it's the People's Choice Award (which rounds off the week and is voted for by the public), which is perhaps the most coveted.

a garden at the chelsea flower show
The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust. Designed by Ann-Marie Powell with the Blue Diamond Team.RHS / Neil Hepworth

But there's a new addition for RHS Chelsea 2024, which reinforces the message that gardening is for everyone, regardless of age. Some 72 children from nine London primary schools participated as junior judges at this year’s show.

school children wearing orange vests
The junior judges inspecting the gardens Lee Charlton

The junior judges set off in groups to assess the eight Show Gardens. They based their verdict on a set of questions, including whether the garden is a good place to play, if it is attractive to wildlife, and how the space makes them feel.

The participating primary schools, chosen from a pool of applications, have all shown a passion for gardening. All schools are also members of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, which provides teachers with free resources, training and support.

'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,' says RHS director general Clare Matterson. 'As the world’s greatest gardening spectacle, RHS Chelsea is a feast for the senses, and I can’t wait to hear what our junior judges make of it.'

The news follows the success of the inaugural Chelsea Children's Picnic last year where Kate Middleton joined 100 schoolchildren on the grounds. The RHS aims to make gardening more accessible to all and to bolster children's love of gardening and appreciation for nature, particularly for those pupils who do not have easy access to a garden or green space at home.

the princess of wales kate middleton joins school children on a visit to the rhs chelsea flower show 2023, pictured on the royal entomological society garden designed by tom massey
The Princess of Wales Kate Middleton joins schoolchildren on a visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023, pictured on the Royal Entomological Society Garden designed by Tom MasseyRHS / Oliver Dixon

Children are front and centre stage at this year’s RHS Chelsea, as the RHS No Adults Allowed Garden, designed by pupils from Sulivan Primary School in Fulham, south-west London, is the first in the event’s history to be designed by children, for children. And there are strict rules in place if adults would like to enter the garden. They must pledge to do one of three things before being given an 'access sticker' granting entry:

  • Plant a tree

  • Donate to RHS Campaign for School Gardening to help give other children access to nature

  • Find a flower that starts with the first letter of their name.

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