RHS announces 10 year investment programme

Visitors-walking-by-the-Alpine-Meadow-in-spring-at-RHS-Garden-WisleyThe Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced a 10 year Strategic Investment Programme of more than £100 million which will enable the charity to provide even better inspiration and advice for more people.

The investment sees the charity broaden its appeal as well as raising the profile and impact of every aspect of horticulture. With these funds the RHS will promote and help secure the future of horticulture across the UK for as many people as possible.

Key areas of the investment programme include education and learning, horticulture, science, community outreach and heritage, conservation and the arts.

Through the programme the RHS aims to engage with even more communities to bring the joy of horticulture and gardening to people, regardless of location and ability. They also aim to create two new inner city gardens for local communities. The charity will be searching for and opening a fifth garden for RHS members and visitors, in an area of the country where the RHS isn’t currently present.

New Learning Centres

Included in the plans is the redevelopment of the hilltop area at RHS Garden Wisley to create a new centre for Science, Learning and Horticultural events. This third “hub” in the Society’s flagship garden will combine modern science laboratories with a new herbarium, a library and additional learning and catering facilities.

There will also be a new learning centre created at RHS Garden Hyde Hall with a teaching garden and the RHS will increase the number of horticultural apprenticeships offered at RHS Gardens from 8 to 22.

The infrastructure in the four existing RHS Gardens at Hyde Hall, Rosemoor, Wisley and Harlow Carr will be substantially improved.

RHS director general Sue Biggs said: “This is a landmark moment for the RHS. As a charity we are careful with our funds and invest them when we believe the time is right. We have turned around a trend of declining members and visitors, and today are in a strong position after several years of growth, with membership and garden visitors at an all-time high. After years of planning, we are now confident to make this significant investment and increase our work to further help and inspire the millions of people who garden in the UK today.”

Supporting the future of horticulture

The 10 year Strategic Investment Programme substantially expands the scope of the charity’s existing Key Investment Projects to increase their charitable work and support the future of horticulture for years to come. The charity hopes to inspire passion and excellence in horticulture, conserve and showcase the nation’s rich horticultural heritage and cultural collections and educate children about the importance of horticulture and horticulture careers. Transforming lives and communities through gardening and making the planet a greener and more beautiful place is another major aim of the programme.

Sir Nicholas Bacon, RHS president, comments: “210 years ago our founders changed the face of horticulture forever when they met in a small London bookshop and resolved to start a Society to further the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. The commitment we make today is no less momentous and will see us taking their original vision out to more people and places than ever before. The RHS is the strongest it has ever been and, after careful consideration and planning, the Council and I are confident that it is time to look to the future.

“The projects we embark on now will mean we can teach the next generation to love, understand, and care for plants and habitats, in their own gardens and across the country; conduct pioneering scientific research; reach out and change lives in new communities; and conserve, share and celebrate our rich horticultural heritage, art and culture.

“The investments will also ensure we develop sustainable income streams for the RHS and can continue to improve our world through horticulture for generations to come.”

Membership at all-time high

Membership of the RHS has reached an all-time high of over 422,000 with RHS Gardens being visited by more than two million members and visitors each year. The RHS Britain in Bloom campaign is the UK’s largest community volunteering scheme and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening now reaches more than 4,000,000 school children throughout the UK.

Eighty percent of the capital for the programme will come from the Society’s reserves and a major fundraising campaign, launched at the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show will raise the remaining 20%.

Photo caption: Alpine Meadow, RHS Garden, Wisley ©RHS/Carol Sheppard