Friday 18 January 2019

Montessori St Nicholas reveals its Centenary Children’s Garden design









The UK’s leading charity for Montessori education, Montessori St Nicholas has collaborated with award-winning landscape designer Jody Lidgard, to create a Space to Grow garden at the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The design is intended to demonstrate children’s keen interest in planting, growing and caring for a garden and their capacity to learn about the interdependence between plants, animals and the vital role water plays in all our lives.

2019 marks one hundred years since Maria Montessori first bought her pioneering teaching methods to the UK, and the garden design brief reflects the key principles that lie at the heart of her child-centric approach to education.

Leonor Stjepic, Chief Executive Officer of Montessori St Nicholas said: “Our starting point was that children in Britain are spending less time outdoors whether that is in parks, gardens, the countryside, or the coast. Maria Montessori’s belief in the importance of access to the outdoors for all young children, and respect for the natural world is arguably more important today than it was a hundred years ago. Combining the natural world with the social importance of putting children first will certainly result in an exciting perspective on a garden.”

This is the first time that established horticulturist and educator, Jody Lidgard, has designed a garden for RHS Chelsea Flowers Show. His challenge is to bring to life the concept of child-first and illustrate the multi-sensory nature of a Montessori classroom.

The garden design incorporates two greenhouses featuring cutting edge hydroponic technology where children can grow micro vegetables and leaves. These can then be planted outside in the vibrant and colourful cutting garden, an area where children can see their plants mature and pick them to bring inside for eating.

An edible living wall offers another opportunity for the children to grow their own food as well as providing a habitat for wildlife. This leads you through to a teaching platform, where there is a shadier living wall inspired by the UK’s native woodlands. A look into soil horizons will reveal whats going on under our feet. The teaching platform overlooks the raised dipping pond which helps the children see the connections between living things and their role within it. The dipping pond then links with a water play station allowing children to learn about sinking and floating in a fun and engaging way.

Other key features include an irrigation system linking all elements of the garden together and a natural filtration system using plants to show a sustainable way to water for the future. ‘Tumbling Tom Thumb’ tomatoes and basil will feature in the living wall, whilst sweet peas and dahlias will add splashes of colour and flowers for children to pick.

Commenting on the design, Jody Lidgard of Bespoke Outdoor Spaces said; “The design of the Montessori Centenary Children’s Garden celebrates the work of Montessori St Nicholas by being child led but future driven. We will be showcasing plants grown hydroponically, aeroponically, under artificial light and under glass in order to demonstrate the many methods of growing in small spaces that are accessible to children. This design offers an engaging space to nurture children, teach them about the natural world and allow them to explore horticulture in their own way.”

The Montessori Children’s Garden will have a significant social impact on young children and the wider early years community. The garden will be accessible to the local children and provide an opportunity for Montessori students to engage in its care. The wider Montessori and early years communities will benefit by having on-line access to tools that will help them to recreate the many innovative features introduced in the Centenary Children’s Garden.

The Montessori Centenary Childrens’ Garden will be showcased at the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show 21 – 25 May 2019.



Notes to editors

For further information please contact Cultural Comms on 0203 286 6980

About Montessori St Nicholas

Founded in 1946, the Montessori St Nicholas Group connects the UK Montessori community of over 700 pre-schools, nurseries and schools and 4,000 early years teachers, as well as leading charitable projects to sustain the Montessori community in the UK. Montessori St Nicholas (MSN) is the group’s charity that carries out social impact work, Montessori Centre International (MCI) provides training to those interested in applying Montessori principles to early years’ education, the Montessori Schools Association (MSA) is a membership organisation for those working in the Montessori field and those interested in Montessori education and MEAB was established in 2008 as the first Montessori accreditation board which guarantees the quality of Montessori settings.

The charity also provides grant-funded opportunities for teachers and potential Montessori practitioners or beneficiaries including Centrepoint, the Alzheimer’s Society, the First Light Trust and Somebody’s Child Soldier. 2019 marks 100 years of Montessori training in the UK, and to celebrate this landmark year the charity will be creating a new children’s garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

About Jody Lidgard
As a young person growing up in an urban landscape in Grimsby, Jody has always had an attraction to the green landscape. As a child he relied on local parks, recreation grounds and woodland for outdoor adventures.

After a career in the armed forces Jody decided to pursue his passion for the natural world and returned to college to study Landscape and Horticulture for four years. During his time studying, Jody recognised the definite split between hard and soft landscaping and the need to master both disciplines.

Ultimately, this led him to found Bespoke Outdoor Spaces - specialists in landscape design, through which he strives to share his passion and understanding of the horticultural industry.

With over twenty years’ experience, Jody passionately believes in the importance of inspiring the next generation to be part of this amazing industry, which has inspired hm to work with Montessori on its garden for the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

This is also why Jody qualified as a lecturer and trainer and encourages others to do the same. His ethic of producing learners who are both confident and competent is helping ensure we will continue to be world leaders in this sector.

Latest press releases

About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262