RHS Announces 10yr Strategic Investment Programme to invest £100 Million for future of horticulture

Wednesday 25 June 2014

RHS to invest in core charitable aims; to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture for the benefit of future generations and the environment

The Royal Horticultural Society today announces a 10 year Strategic Investment Programme* of more than £100 million. This will enable the charity to provide even better inspiration and advice for more people, both its members and the British gardening public. The charity will also broaden its appeal and raise 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 by:
• engaging even more with communities to bring the joy of horticulture and gardening to people, regardless of location and ability
• creating two new inner city gardens for local communities
• 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
• redeveloping 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 and a new Herbarium, a Library, additional Learning and catering facilities, as well as an inspiring Living Science Garden
• creating a new Learning Centre at RHS Garden Hyde Hall with a teaching garden
• increasing the number of horticultural apprenticeships offered at RHS Gardens from 8 to 22
• substantially improving the horticulture and infrastructure in the four existing RHS Gardens at Hyde Hall, Rosemoor, Wisley and Harlow Carr through major investment
(details of the 10 Year Strategic Investment Programme in Notes to Editors)

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.

“This 10 year Strategic Investment Programme substantially expands the scope of our existing Key Investment Projects (KIPs), to increase our charitable work and support the future of horticulture for years to come. Two years ago we announced our five-year investment plan of 10 KIPs with a budget of £27m, financed by £18m from the sale of the lease of Lawrence Hall and £9m from fundraising. We are now increasing our fundraising target to £20m over the next ten years, with the remaining £80m to come from the RHS.

“We’ve already made some significant progress with our KIPs, including the recent launch of our new website, new horticultural content at Hyde Hall and the development of designs for the new Learning Centre at Hyde Hall, the redevelopment of Lindley Library & Hall at Vincent Square and the new Science building and entrance and retail facilities at Wisley.

“Our new expanded ten year programme builds on these and will see us investing in projects that will make a real difference. Our intention is to inspire passion and excellence in horticulture; conserve and showcase the nation’s rich horticultural heritage and cultural collections; educate children about the importance of horticulture and horticulture careers; transform lives and communities through gardening and make our planet a greener, better and more beautiful place.”

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.”


Notes to editors

For more information and images, please contact Stephanie Shepherd in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3042 or stephanieshepherd@rhs.org.uk
Photographs are available to download at www.rhs.photoshelter.com Registration is a simple process and free of charge. Please contact pressoffice@rhs.org.uk to gain access.

*About the RHS Ten Year Strategic Investment Programme
The RHS Ten Year Strategic Investment Programme has been carefully planned by RHS President Nicholas Bacon, RHS Director General Sue Biggs, the Society’s Council, and the RHS Executive. Together they have led the charity to the strong position from which it makes this exciting commitment to the future.
• RHS membership has reached an all-time high of over 422,000
• RHS gardens and shows are visited by more than two million members and visitors a year
• RHS Britain in Bloom is the UK’s largest community volunteering scheme with more than 300,000 volunteers caring for the equivalent of over 500 Hyde Parks
• The RHS also publishes The Garden Magazine and www.rhs.org.uk/ a website that reaches over 7,000,000.
• The RHS Campaign for School Gardening now reaches more than 4,000,000 school children throughout the UK.
Eighty percent of the capital will come from the Society’s reserves, generated through operational surplus that the Society has generated through recent good performance, careful management of its funds, including those from the sale of the lease of the Lawrence Hall. A major fundraising campaign was officially launched at the 2014 RHS Chelsea Flower Show to raise the remaining 20%. The investment will build on the plans outlined in the previously announced five year development plans which are currently underway.

Key Areas for Ten Year Investment Plans

Education and Learning
RHS Gardens currently attract more than 1.6million people a year. They are the most practical and impactful opportunity that the RHS has to engage with, dazzle and educate people. Because of this, the Society will be investing in large-scale educational projects at existing gardens, as well as searching for three more gardens to acquire, all of which will have an educational aspect, both for visitors and out into local communities.

Educational highlights at existing gardens will include; an improved and expanded Learning Centre at RHS Garden Wisley with space for events, and a Science Garden which will be a living demonstration of practical science in the garden, to be used by schools and visitors. A new Learning Centre at RHS Garden Hyde Hall will include a teaching garden and will achieve the RHS goal of a Learning Centre at each garden.

The RHS will also continue to invest in its ongoing Horticulture Matters campaign, which aims to make and lobby for the changes that are needed at both an industry and government level, if the looming green skills gap which threatens our industry is to be averted. As well as continuing to advance the campaign’s wider aims, the RHS will be increasing its personal commitment to Horticulture Matters. The Society will be offering more education opportunities to schools and children, bringing more schools (particularly secondary schools) into the Campaign for School Gardening, increasing the number of apprenticeships offered at RHS Gardens from 8 to 22, and will be conducting a salary benchmarking review to inform its plans to raise horticultural salaries where relevant.

The RHS is committed to promoting and displaying world-class horticulture and a significant portion of its investment will go towards new horticultural developments. The largest of these will be the search for three new gardens which will follow the ethos of the current gardens and share all that is inspirational in horticulture to visitors, members and the thousands of school children and local communities who visit each year. Over the next ten years, the RHS will be looking for one large site on a similar scale to its existing gardens, as well as two urban sites, possibly somewhere in the West Midlands and North West.

Large-scale horticultural developments will take place at the RHS flagship gardens too. Highlights include a new edible garden and 60 acres of perennial meadow planting at RHS Garden Hyde Hall; the expansion of the cultivated area at RHS Garden Harlow Carr through the acquisition of new land, including more streamside to add to what is already the longest stretch of continuous streamside planting in the country; and an expansive new stretch of garden will be created alongside the redeveloped entrance at RHS Garden Wisley. We will also create a new area at Wisley designed to highlight the best of British horticulture, by showcasing Britain’s finest specialist nurseries.

The RHS science team, based at RHS Garden Wisley, conducts pioneering research into issues facing gardens, gardeners and the environment, such as climate change, peat use, urban greening and wildlife gardening, plant pests, resource use and much more. The scientific collections held at Wisley are of international importance, are the largest of their type and are unique in that they are devoted solely to cultivated plants and gardens. The science team includes plant health experts, botanists, plant pathologists, entomologists and an advisory team that answers tens of thousands of gardening queries every year, helping to improve knowledge and our environment. These resources enable us to develop a global knowledge-bank on gardening and garden plants for the benefit of gardeners. RHS scientists also utilise their expertise and knowledge to input into government policies and represent the interests of gardeners to policy-making bodies such as Defra. The team will be expanded and a new cutting-edge science research hub and Herbarium will be built at Wisley. This will deliver a major upgrade and step change to RHS Science facilities, enabling us to deliver high quality scientific research, apply our findings to everyday gardens, share best practice with gardeners, and engage with and educate the public about the importance of horticultural sciences, gardening and growing our own food.

The new science facility, together with the public facing Learning Centre and the new science garden at RHS Garden Wisley, will practically demonstrate the relationship between science and gardening to the public and will be used by schools and visitors as an outdoor classroom.

Community Outreach
Another key area of investment for the RHS is community outreach. Expanding into new areas through the acquisition of three new gardens will play a key part in this, as these gardens will act as hubs from which the RHS can engage with and meaningfully help enrich local communities through horticulture. The urban gardens in particular will break new ground for the RHS and will be designed to meet the particular gardening needs of schools, neighbourhoods and local community groups in the area.

Following the success of pilot schemes in Yorkshire and Scotland, the RHS will also be taking community outreach programmes into areas that are not currently served by RHS gardens. New development teams will be created to provide direct support for community gardening groups, train teachers and community leaders, and strengthen connections with local schools. As well as practical support and expertise, the RHS will also be making grants available to grassroots community gardening projects.

Heritage, conservation and the arts
The RHS Lindley Library is the world’s finest horticultural library and art collection. It documents over 500 years of gardening history, art and writing and holds more than 80,000 books, 30,000 works of art and has designated status from the Arts Council as a collection of national and international importance. Up until now, access to the collection has been limited but as part of its new investments, the Society’s headquarters at Vincent Square in Westminster will be redeveloped to create a stunning and open plan library and exhibition gallery. The reach of the RHS Lindley Library will be extended around the world through an extensive digitisation programme, so that the collection and its treasures will be freely accessible to researchers, culture lovers, historians and the general public right across the globe.

The ground floor of Vincent Square will also be opened up to unite Lindley Hall, Library and a new entrance and foyer, making 80 Vincent Square a visible, accessible and vibrant window into the Society’s work, and providing an exciting horticultural hub in the centre of London.

The RHS will also be continuing its commitment to heritage at RHS Garden Wisley as the beautiful listed Wisley Laboratory will be revealed and restored, and the nearby Wisley Village will be regenerated, restoring it to the vibrant community it once was. The RHS will also be conserving the newly acquired 18th Century Harrogate Arms, restoring the Bath House area and making sure that the story of its important role in Harrogate’s development as a spa town and links with RHS Garden Harlow Carr is told.

*Original 2012 Key Investment Projects, which have been incorporated into the 10 Year Strategic Investment Programme and expanded on
In 2012 the RHS launched a substantial programme of innovation and modernisation, which will enable the RHS to involve, educate and inspire millions more gardeners throughout the country.

The initiatives originally planned, which have now been expanded on for the ten year investment programme include:

RHS Lindley Library & Hall, London

Horticultural Science

RHS Urban Garden

RHS Regional (Community Outreach)

RHS Online

RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

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 www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


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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 www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262