RHS: A Nation in Bloom – Review

From its small beginnings in the 19th century to the global success of the Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is certainly a part of the fabric of Britain. In this new book, ‘RHS: A Nation in Bloom‘ – celebrating the people, Plants, and Places of the RHS, author Matthew Biggs uncovers the beating heart of the nation’s largest gardening charity.

The RHS, however, is much more than Flower Shows and beautiful gardens such as RHS Wisley or Rosemoor. Over the last few decades the RHS has become increasingly relevant to its members and the wider horticultural community as it leads campaigns such as Britain in Bloom, It’s Your Neighbourhood and the Campaign for School Gardening. It is, therefore, timely that this book takes an overview of the charity today as it leads a renaissance of interest and enthusiasm for all things horticultural.

In the Foreword, Alan Titchmarsh remarks that: “Never has the work of the Royal Horticultural Society been more important or more far reaching.” He also points out that whatever the future holds regarding climate change, the RHS aims to be “on the ball” in terms of conserving and sustaining our valuable plant resources.

In the book, Matthew covers the story of the RHS as well as the charity’s investment in the future of horticulture. There are chapters on the four existing RHS Gardens and a chapter on the newest addition, RHS Bridgewater, which is particularly interesting as it introduces us to the charity’s garden in the North West, due to open in 2020.

He looks at all the RHS Shows while the section on ‘Inspiring everyone to grow‘, looks at the charity’s larger remit through its work from libraries, plant trials and the Award of Garden Merit, to School Horticulture, the RHS website, myriad publications and social media platforms.

The final chapter covers the ‘Purest of human pleasures‘ in which director general of the RHS, Sue Biggs, points out that the message she wants the book to herald is how the RHS has changed and how plants can transform people’s lives.

The book is beautifully illustrated and will certainly inspire as well as encourage gardeners with its rich and compelling story of how plants and gardens can improve our lives and encourage gardeners for generations to come. It gives a superb overview of the Royal Horticultural Society and the increasing importance of its work, bringing the charity’s various aspects together in one publication while at the same time enabling the reader to discover the new direction of the RHS in its aims to inspire us all through plants and gardens.

Matthew Biggs is a well-known gardening expert and regular panellist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time and author of several books including RHS Lessons from the Great Gardeners.

A Nation in Bloom‘ by Matthew Biggs, is published by White Lion Publishing, in hardback, priced at £30.
We are grateful to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

All images are ©publisher/RHS – credits: pictured above right: Julian Weigall, above middle: credit Helen Yates.