Calling All Teachers – Your Gardening Pupils Need You

Thursday 16 May 2013

Calling All Teachers – Your Gardening Pupils Need You

Keen gardener and children’s TV star Dominic ‘Dom’ Wood has joined forces with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to call on teachers across the UK to nominate their star pupils for the 2013 RHS Young School Gardener of the Year award as the 18 May deadline looms.

Gardening is proposed to be added to the school curriculum in 2014, so now is a perfect time to celebrate horticultural skills in young people.

Teachers from all schools on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, of which there are more than 16,900 (UK breakdown below*), can put students forward for the award. Last year, 11-year-old Lucas Hatch**, from Suffolk, won the title by impressing judges with his passion, ability and knowledge. He has enjoyed a whirlwind year with visits to RHS Shows and Gardens, newspaper features, radio interviews and recent recognition at an RHS Awards ceremony that’s been dubbed the Oscars of Gardening. To watch Lucas talk about his passion for gardening, visit:

Dom, who has just enrolled in a horticultural course at RHS Garden Wisley, said: “In my own experience, gardening at school helps pupils grow in so many ways and it’s something I feel so passionate about. There’s a tidal wave of public awareness at the moment about the huge range of benefits that gardening at school can bring to a student’s wellbeing and development. Although important, it’s not just about showing them where their food comes from – gardening builds confidence, teaches life skills and helps pupils engage with their subjects.

“The RHS Young School Gardener of the Year award isn’t simply a celebration of gardening flair in pupils,” said Dom, “it’s about raising awareness and inspiring more students to pick up a trowel and get growing. Whether it’s a large plot, or a single pot, growing plants is a magical process for a young mind. With the brilliant news coming in that ‘horticulture’ is proposed to be added to next year’s curriculum, there couldn’t be a better time to champion school gardening – so, teachers of the UK: nominate your best gardening pupils now!”

All last year’s category winners have been busy since last year**. Toby Owen-Hughes, aged 6 from Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, dazzled teachers with his gardening knowledge on a live Gardeners Question Time. Henry Grubb, a 14-year-old ‘mini David Attenborough’ has started his own gardening blog. Alan Monk (Key Stage 4 winner) aged 16 was interviewed for Growing Communities, an RHS publication.

Schools that successfully nominate finalists will receive up to £500 worth of gardening vouchers and tools to develop outdoor projects. The overall winner will get to spend a day at their nearest RHS Garden, working alongside RHS gardeners and receive family tickets to either RHS Flower Show Tatton Park or RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2014. Runners-up will also get a personal tour of an RHS Garden.

School staff and teachers are invited to nominate inspiring pupils by simply filling out a short form (found here: by 18 May. A shortlist of 16 pupils, from four age categories, will then be given digital cameras for their schools to make videos describing why they should be named RHS Young School Gardener of the Year 2013.



Notes to editors

For more information and images, please contact Ed Horne on 020 7821 3356, or


Teachers from any school on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening scheme can put forward pupils. To find schools local to your area, please type your postcode into an online map found here:

Here is the regional breakdown of schools on RHS Campaign for School Gardening:

East Midlands: 1,370 schools
East of England: 2,122 schools
London: 1,302 schools
North East: 520 schools
Northern Ireland: 197 schools
North West: 1,795 schools
Scotland (East): 329 schools
Scotland (West): 372 schools
South East of England: 2,884 schools
South West of England: 1,704 schools
Wales: 729 schools
West Midlands: 1,551 schools
Yorkshire and The Humber: 1,599 schools


Overall winner:
Lucas Hatch from St Mary’s Primary School, Woodbridge, Suffolk
Lucas impressed judges with his natural affinity for getting his hands dirty and has an incredible range of gardening skills. At the age of 11, he can plan the layout of beds, order seeds, sow, prick out, and care for a whole range of flowers, fruit and veg. Lucas showed great initiative by successfully writing to Thompson & Morgan to request seeds for the school. Once his exams were finished, he gave talks to all the school year groups to encourage them to compost fruit and vegetable waste from their school and packed lunches instead of throwing it away.
What has he been up to since?
Lucas was invited to RHS Garden Wisley in September 2012 to meet Curator Colin Crosbie, and to receive a set of tools for the school, a certificate and personalised trowel bearing his name and the title RHS Young School Gardener of the Year. During the day he worked with the Plant Trials team at Wisley, harvesting and sorting tomatoes on which he is particularly keen. Lucas is now involved in plant trials with Thompson & Morgan. He has also spent time in the gardens of Helmingham Hall, Suffolk, with Lady Tollemache.
Lucas's Mum (Julia Hatch) said about the trip to Wisley: ‘We had the most amazing day and I know Lucas will always remember it.’

2012 Key Stage 1 winner:
Toby Owen-Hughes from Meadowside School, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
Toby was only 6 years old when he won the youngest age category of YSG. Despite his age, Toby already dresses and thinks like a gardener. He has a wide-brimmed hat to protect himself from the sun in hot weather, and has asked for secateurs and a wormery for previous birthdays. At school he has planted bulbs and a gingko tree, built raised beds and sowed wildflowers as part of the RHS initiative Get Your Grown-ups Growing. He has also grown a whole host of vegetables at home, including pumpkins and carrots.
Rebecca Maiden (Teaching Assistant/Parent Volunteer) said: ‘Toby lights up when he is gardening. He likes tasks to have a purpose and an end product, which he gets in the school garden.’
What has he been up to since?
Since qualifying as a finalist, Toby attended the RHS Campaign for School Gardening Regional Schools Conference at RHS Harlow Carr in October 2012. Visiting teachers marvelled at his knowledge when he answered their gardening questions as one of four Gardeners Question Time panellists.

2012 Key Stage 3 Winner:
Henry Grubb from Imberhorne School, East Grinstead, West Sussex
Henry used the power of video to take us on a magical tour of his school grounds and home garden. Judges marvelled at the way the 14-year-old brought the grounds to life, even taking us – David Attenborough style – beneath the water of the school pond to tell us about the hidden world underneath. Henry is known in school for promoting ecological and environmental values and represents these in his role on the school council. He is a keen home allotmenteer with the rest of his family.
What has he been up to since?
Henry really enjoys mucking in when his school takes part in the annual Get Your Grown-ups Growing initiative. His natural presentation style so impressed the organisers that Henry has been asked to become a regular blogger for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. Although he has a full academic schedule, Henry is interested in getting more young people at secondary school to participate in gardening – hence his enthusiasm to blog for the RHS!
Henry Grubb said: ‘I am always wanting to enhance, learn and add to my knowledge, from bug hotels to biodiversity.’

2012 Key Stage 4 Winner:
Alan Monk from Oaklands Catholic School, Waterlooville, Hampshire
At 16 and as our oldest finalist, Alan manages to fit in a huge range of gardening activities while studying for four A levels. His enlightening film told us how his fascination for plants began – as a grower of African violets in his mum’s flat. This started as a result of reading an old House Plant Expert book that was lying around on a coffee table. His interest grew to encompass volunteering in the communal residents’ gardens, which he felt could ‘do with a lift’, and managing a vast allotment. Alan ran a ‘tools amnesty’ in his parish to get old tools for his school. He brought the tools to school on his bike! He also raised £3,600 by doing gardening odd jobs for local people, which he used to fund a trip to Borneo to assist with the forest conversation work going on there.
What he has been doing since?
Alan was invited to come to RHS Garden Wisley in November 2012 to do an interview with the campaign team for our Growing Communities magazine (Spring 2013 issue). During his trip, he got the chance to do a tour of some areas of the garden with former Wisley Diploma student Lucie Ponsford, who recently graduated and now looks after the model gardens. After helping to dig and reposition a massive boulder in one particular garden, Alan was thrilled to be taken to see his favourite African violets in The Wisley Plant Centre to discover more about plant retailing and to take home a violet in his favourite colour – purple. Alan is now busier than ever, saving for his next environmental adventure abroad.

About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS actively involves more than 16,900 schools across the UK in growing and gardening through its Campaign for School Gardening. Children are taught about plants and gardening and their environment. Through gardening they learn about healthy fruit and vegetables, wildlife and important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation. Huge benefits are to be had from using an outdoor classroom where children can learn in a fun, engaging way. Information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS education team and Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors.  

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s foremost gardening charity, helping and inspiring millions of people to garden. We do this at our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters.

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



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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

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262