No adults allowed! Fulham pupils impress at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Sulivan Primary School pupils impressed royal visitors and horticultural experts with their kids-only garden.

Harry Holding, garden designer, with children from Sulivan Primary School in the den at the The RHS No Adults Allowed Garden.
Image credit
Oliver Dixon

Green-fingered Fulham pupils captured the imagination of visitors to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this week as they unveiled a unique garden as part of the prestigious event.

The garden from Sulivan Primary School in Fulham was given the royal seal of approval from King Charles and Queen Camilla as the couple toured the garden during a visit to the show.

HRH Queen Camilla vists the children's garden.
Image credit
Matt Pereira

The RHS ‘No Adults Allowed’ garden is the first-ever garden at the show to be designed by children, specifically for children.

With a den set in a pool of water accessed by a slide, oversized carnivorous plants, and a magical woodland area, the stunning garden is a glimpse into the essence of childhood.

Created by a group of 29 pupils from the school in Peterborough Road, the children teamed up with a professional garden designer to bring their ideas to life for the annual show, run by the Royal Horticultural Society

The pupils were able to let their creativity run wild, explains Sarah Garnett, assistant headteacher at Sulivan Primary School.

“It’s been a really wonderful experience for the children,” she says. “They know they have made history as the first children to ever create a garden like this for the show. The thing they were most excited about was that they would actually see the garden they had designed be developed.”

Months in planning

Expert garden designer Harry Holding, who last year won an RHS Chelsea Flower Show People’s Choice Award for his The School Food Matters Garden, spent months working with the Year 5 pupils.

Plans for the garden kicked off in July last year – when the children were in Year 4 – when the school was approached by the RHS with its idea to partner on the project.

Design concept sessions were part of the exciting process, along with planting workshops with specialists from the RHS. 

And while some of the original ideas – like a crocodile guarding an underwater den – weren’t able to make it through to the final design, the children’s desire for a den was realised.

“Some children also wanted a meadow with flowers for bees, and a waterlogged area that would be good for wildlife,” adds Sarah.

“They really thought about the purpose of a garden as well as for having fun, and how it might help the environment. They’ve been allowed to be creative and they’ve really run with it.”

Trips to Surrey

The pupils from Chestnut Class paid two visits to RHS Wisley garden in Surrey to help them learn more about different types of garden, from ornamental plants to less formal, wild designs.

And appearing live at a press launch in October and on BBC Breakfast in March meant the children could share the joy of their soon-to-be constructed garden.

Although the garden was designed with no adults allowed, the pupils made a concession for grown-ups who pledged either to plant a tree, make a donation to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, or find a flower starting with the first letter of their name.

Once the garden was fully completed at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which is held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea each year, the green retreat was revealed to some very special visitors.

With their well-known love of plants and the environment, King Charles and Queen Camilla were given the honorary titles of King of Compost and Queen of Bees as they toured the garden.

The garden featured on the BBC’s television coverage of the famous flower show on Monday evening (20 May), and aims to encourage a new generation of gardeners by showing how plants and outdoor spaces are a fun way to help the planet.

“Making history is special because it is very rare to do and only talented people do it,” revealed one of the schoolchildren, while another said: “It has been special to be part of the RHS project because it is not a thing you do every day.”


As one of 36 gardens on display at the prestigious show, the school’s green space featured alongside creations from top designers. Famous faces including celebrity baker Mary Berry, comedian Tom Allen, and presenter Arit Anderson also payed a visit.

“So many people have enjoyed spending time in the children’s garden already,” adds Sarah. “Being at Chelsea flower show in person helped our pupils fully realise how amazing their achievement is.”

After the show closes at the weekend, the garden will be relocated to Sulivan Primary School’s playground. It will take pride of place alongside the school’s existing wild garden, which has been part of the playground for the past 30 years and is a space where Sulivan pupils enjoy weekly “garden school” sessions.

“We have a long history of gardening,” says Sarah. “We’ve already broken ground on the space where the garden will be brought, and we have a two-metre hole dug ready for the subterranean den.

“The whole project has been so beneficial to the children, from developing their writing, speaking and listening skills, to their science knowledge and thinking about the environment.

“It’s wonderful that will continue as the garden comes to Sulivan Primary School and they can feel proud of their achievement for many years to come.”

Find out more about the RHS No Adults Allowed garden designed by Sulivan Primary School pupils

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