Kate Dazzles Onlookers as Queen of the Garden?

Among Kate's other royal duties at a community garden appearance: making a 10-year-old boy's day

Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage

Does the Duchess of Cambridge have a green thumb?

Kate tried her hand at growing vegetables during a gardening project in Newcastle Wednesday, and by all accounts, she knew what she was doing.

Community gardener Emma Hughes, who hosted Kate at Elswick Park, told PEOPLE that at home, the royal “grows her own potatoes in sacks. We were digging the potatoes and she was asking about it. She said ours were bigger. She said she only got small ones this year.”

Kate met children, who are taught about how food is made and where it comes from, via the Edible Elswick project, and she spoke to gardeners who have planted everything from beets to wheat.

Teaching assistant Susan Hobby-Bell, whose pupils from Hawthorn Primary School met Kate, said she showed a good touch with the kids. “She didn’t just ask about what they were doing, but what they knew before they came here,” Hobby-Bell said.

On the way in, Kate was met by a crowd of well-wishers – and a tiny child caught her eye. Four-day-old Lee Turner, in a onesie and wool hat, was there with his aunt, Kymberlie Davies.

“He’s very dinky,” Kate said as she met him.

“She was quite maternal,” Kymberlie’s friend, Lindsey Maudling told reporters. “I think she should have a baby soon.”

Earlier, as Kate greeted crowds outside Newcastle’s Civic Centre, she got a hug from 10-year-old Terry Campbell. As she passed he held his arms out wide and she asked him, “Am I going to get a cuddle as well?”

She leaned forward over the steel barrier and embraced the schoolboy, who then blushed red immediately afterwards.

“It was good,” he quipped when asked about his brief encounter.

“I never actually thought it would happen. I can’t believe she hugged me back.”

Kate flew up from London early Wednesday, while Prince William (who had been due to go to the northeast of England too) was at the funeral of his former nanny Olga Powell.

Lord Howard of Rising, chairman of Fields in Trust which includes Elswick Park, said, “I know [William] would have preferred to have been here but I admire his loyalty to someone who was an old friend,” he said.

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