The Princess of Wales has been dealt some difficult blows this year, but those who know her say her love of gardening will help her come back stronger than before

By her own admission, the Princess of Wales has had an extremely challenging start to 2024 following her shocking cancer diagnosis. But former BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond says that Kate, like so many of us at this time of year, will be seeking comfort in the sanctuary of her beloved gardens.

“I’m sure Catherine will take huge solace in her gardens and the joy of being outside during these months of recuperation,” Jennie tells Notebook. “Winter in the UK can be rather grey at the best of times, and when you are recovering from major surgery, it can no doubt seem bleak.

“Catherine has always taken great strength and inspiration from nature and outdoor life. And there is something so reassuring and optimistic about the green shoots of spring – especially if you’ve planted the seeds yourself. She will have drawn on her love of gardening and nature – perhaps sowing seeds with her children and seeing those first green shoots appear. New life. New hope. A new cycle.”

As well as being a champion of promoting early years development, Kate has long been an advocate for the positive impact being outside has on our mental and physical health. And, just like her father-in-law, King Charles, simply being outdoors will surely give her an added boost to tackle her treatment and recovery.

Over the years, Kate has made no secret of her love of the great outdoors and has proudly spoken of the results she has achieved in her own gardens – as she did in 2012, when she declared that she grows her own potatoes “in sacks”.

And in 2019, while on a tour of King Henry’s Walk Garden in Islington – a project devised to bring green-fingered Londoners together – she again proved she is not afraid to get her hands dirty (quite literally!) by taking part in a winter planting workshop and a session building bird boxes.

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Last year, Kate backed the RHS’s campaign for school gardening, which aims to bring gardening and nature into the lives of youngsters. Proving she practises what she preaches, Kate also revealed that her youngest son has inherited her love of horticulture, saying, “Louis is growing broad beans at school.”

Kate has always taken great solace and inspiration from the natural world, says Jennie Bond (


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And, like many Britons, Kate has admitted she loves nothing more than a day out at her local garden centre. In 2020, during a solo visit to Fakenham Garden Centre near her Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, she said, “It’s such a great space for children and families to come to.”

Adding that her kids “love it”, she revealed that George is particularly fascinated by the flesh-eating plant the Venus flytrap and that all three children grew tomatoes during lockdown. “They were very excited to grow them from seeds and now they’re as tall as them,” she laughed.

Perhaps most memorably, Kate made her RHS Chelsea Flower Show debut in 2019 with her Back to Nature Garden, and it was immediately clear that it was a space to be used, played in and thoroughly enjoyed by all ages.

Kate’s garden delighted both children and adults with its charming treehouse, rope swing and a vibrant green and blue colour scheme that made it an impressive sight to behold.

“I think to all intents and purposes Kate is pretty keen on gardening,” says royal gardening author George Plumptre. “She’s getting quite stuck in at Anmer, the house in Norfolk, and of course with her garden at the CFS. What’s nice is that there’s been personal involvement from one generation of royals to the next.”

Kate, who has sweetly gained the nickname “the Children’s Princess”, made sure that the garden had children at the heart of its design. Fun, frivolous elements were scattered throughout, including an area for toasting marshmallows over a campfire, a small waterfall, a hollow log for curious youngsters to clamber through and a den made from hazel sticks that had been collected ahead of time by Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis on their woodland walks.

Prince William, Princess Kate and their children pictured at the Chelsea Flower Show (
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“I believe that spending time outdoors when we are young can play a role in laying the foundations for children to become happy, healthy adults,” Kate said at the time. “I really feel that nature and being interactive outdoors has huge benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing, particularly for young kiddies.”

Kate’s fellow designers Andrée Davies and Adam White revealed that the princess had been involved in the garden every step of the way, while former director general of the Royal Horticultural Society, Sue Biggs, said Kate took
“a very active role in the garden’s design and came up with the original concept”.

Ahead of the Chelsea Flower Show’s official launch, George, now 10, Charlotte, eight, and Louis, five, were among the first to test the garden’s appeal. Asked by their father, Prince William, to rate it “out of 10”, Prince George proudly declared he’d give it “20”, causing an amused William to reply, “Twenty out of 10? That’s pretty good. I think Mummy’s done well.” Kate agreed and added, “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.”