The Duchess of Cambridge has said she has “fond memories” of being outdoors as a child and is passing that passion on to her own children.
Kate was visiting Robin Hood Primary School in south-west London to see its work with the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) campaign for school gardening.
The duchess laughed when she was shown a home for insects called “Bug-ingham Palace”, and later said “Lucky insects have such a good place to stay”.
Kate, dressed down in trousers, jacket and boots for the chilly morning engagement, planted winter bulbs with children and also addressed pupils in the playground.
“Thank you so much for having me here today.
“It’s been lovely to meet all of you and thank you so much to all the children who’ve shown me what they’ve been doing in their gardens.
“It’s really inspiring and exciting to see what you’ve all been up to,” she said.
“I’ve got such fond memories of being in the garden and being outside from my own childhood, and I’m sharing that with my own children, George and Charlotte, at the moment.
“And I’m really excited about what you’re doing here and taking inspiration from that in the school environment as well. What you have created here is really so special. Hopefully you’ll have lots of memories of your time here in the garden, looking for insects or planting bulbs.
“And I really hope you remember these special times for the rest of your lives. But thank you again and good luck and happy gardening for the future,” she said.
The RHS initiative, now marking 10 years, inspires and supports schools to provide children with gardening opportunities to enhance their skills and boost their development.
Kate chatted with the children as they planted daffodil bulbs and carved wood.
At one point, when she looked at her own attempt at whittling a stick, she said: “Mine’s not very good.”
When a little boy remarked that “practice makes perfect”, Kate replied: “That is so true. Keep up, keep up all the good work.”
She told the children she loves sunflowers and asked if they had spotted any squirrels or “bit fat wiggly worms”.
Sally Spires, outdoor learning co-ordinator at the school, said Kate talked about how she enjoys gardening with the children.
“And how it can be gardening … fruit, vegetables, but also just including toys and dinosaurs, enjoying being in the outdoors,” Ms Spires said.
She said the duchess’s visit to the school was “fantastic”, adding: “It’s shone a light on our school. It’s shone a light on outdoor learning and how that can facilitate children learning in a wide variety of ways. The children’s experience of that will stay with them forever.”
Ruth Evans, director of education at the RHS, said she got a sense that Kate has a genuine interest in gardening.
“She’s so natural with the children in terms of trying to get them to engage and be part of something. You can only do that when you have a genuine interest in not just gardening but actually young people and children,” she said.
Ms Evans said the visit was “incredibly special”, adding that the royal visitor was keen to hear about the advantages of children gardening at school.
Robin Hood Primary School has developed a whole-school outdoor learning curriculum with support from the RHS. Children have access to a range of outdoor classrooms in the woodland setting, including a purpose-built outdoor learning area and sensory garden.
This outdoor learning is said to give children an opportunity to explore, consolidate and develop their knowledge and understanding of the natural environment.