New 2015–2017 Britain in Bloom with the RHS Campaign Urges Nation to Get Greening Grey Britain

Friday 10 April 2015

Britain in Bloom 2015 launches on 10 April 2015

  • Campaign aims to revitalise 6,000 neglected and rundown spaces across the UK by end of 2017
  •  Launch event: RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal-winning designers, Adam Frost and Chris Beardshaw, and RHS Ambassador Nick Knowles at transformation of historic London dock site
  • Part of RHS call to action for the nation to get Greening Grey Britain, including activity at RHS Flower Shows and Gardens and through the RHS Science teams and RHS shops

A new Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom community campaign, Greening Grey Britain, will aim to transform 6,000 unloved grey spaces over the next three years into planted-up, living, beautiful places for people to enjoy and to benefit the environment.

Work will begin this spring as a 300,000-strong army of Britain in Bloom volunteers plants millions of trees, perennials, shrubs and hedges across the UK. The RHS will also give communities 500,000 nasturtium seeds to kick start the campaign.

The RHS Britain in Bloom community campaign forms part of a wider RHS call to action to get the nation Greening Grey Britain², to address the creeping loss of green spaces across the nation’s towns, cities and villages3. In 2015, parks face a crippling lack of proper funding and gardens continue to lose out to paving for cars. This trend for grey replacing green degrades the living environment, increasing flood risk and reducing air quality. It also has dire consequences for wildlife and has been linked to growing mental and physical health problems.

Britain in Bloom 2015 will be launched on Friday 10 April by RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal-winning designers Adam Frost and Chris Beardshaw and RHS Ambassador Nick Knowles, at the abandoned Victorian Cody Dock, on the southern section of lower Lea Valley, Newham, East London, where 2,000 residents and volunteers have been working to unlock public access to 26 miles of unused footpaths, wildlife havens and waterways.

Chris, Adam and Nick will take to the final stretch of land with residents to transform the first of the target 6,000 spaces with hundreds of plants. Once complete, it will remove one of the few remaining obstacles on a riverside walk from Hertfordshire to the River Thames.

RHS Ambassador Adam Frost has consulted with residents to ensure the plants and hard landscaping meet their needs by including raised beds to grow food, and plants for birds bees and butterflies, all with the aim of creating a beautiful place for people to enjoy.

Further RHS ‘greening’ projects will take place across the UK, including regional events supported by RHS Community Outreach advisors.

Speaking about how other communities can get involved, Adam Frost said: “Projects can range from planting along public walls, and revitalising bald roundabouts or neglected verges with nasturtium seeds, to using planters and raised beds to brighten up a concrete corner, or creating a community garden with friends. While the proposition is simple, the possibilities are huge.”

Talking about why the campaign matters, newly appointed RHS Ambassador, Chris Beardshaw, said: “The increasing greyness across the UK should concern us all, we know the detrimental effect it can cause for our wildlife, the quality of the air we breathe and the increased risks of flooding as drainage routes disappear.

“By contrast, green spaces make us happier and brighten days. Also, mental and physical issues such as depression, heart disease and obesity are reduced among people with access to outdoor space, plants and the world of nature. To make a stand against concrete sprawl, RHS Bloom volunteers will transform unloved and unspectacular parts of their neighbourhood into something beautiful and make more public space greener.”

RHS Director General Sue Biggs said: “Greening Grey Britain is a public challenge to create new colourful havens for wildlife and fight the developing concrete jungle in a beautiful way. Even a solitary pot of bee-friendly chives on an outside ledge can create feelings of connection to the environment, and just sprinkling a packet of forget-me-not seeds on a patch of brown earth can be rewarding. Anyone can get involved by creating a windowbox, pulling up a paving stone and planting up the space, having potted plants in a front garden or transforming a grey community area. Greening Grey Britain can be as big or small as you like, but we can all make a difference, one plant at a time.”

To register, download ideas and resources and apply for free nasturtium seeds, community gardening groups should visit or telephone 020 7821 3122.


Notes to editors

Issued by The Press Office. For further information and images, please contact Michael Barrett on 020 8295 2424, 07813 558772 or

Greening Grey Britain is the overarching RHS call to action asking the nation to transform hard, cold grey areas into beautiful places, to enrich lives and benefit the environment. Throughout 2015, initiatives across Britain in Bloom with the RHS, RHS Flower Shows, Gardens and shops, and RHS Scientists will highlight the detrimental impact of paving over Britain and demonstrate how anyone and everyone can plant up an area of hard landscaping, however small or large, to bring about improvements ranging from better health and wellbeing and providing food for bees and butterflies, to reducing flood risks and making Britain more beautiful.

Full supporting facts, figures and tips available separately. A few highlights:
Hard surfaces in gardens increase by two and a half times the area of Hyde Park every year.
Current models predict that a 10% increase in vegetated surfaces in urban areas would help control the rise in summertime air temperatures due to climate change.
In Leeds, there has been a 13% increase in impervious surfaces over the last 30 years, 75% of which was due to the paving of front gardens.
Urban gardens help keep our cities ‘above water’. Garden plants and trees intercept intense rain, slowing runoff and so reducing the pressure on urban drains. Unlike hard surfaces, the soil in gardens naturally absorbs rainwater, reducing the risk of flooding in our towns and cities.
45% of local authorities are considering either selling parks or green spaces, or transferring their management to others. Source – HLF State of UK Public Parks 2014: Renaissance to Risk.
Trees, hedges and climbers can reduce heating costs and energy consumption by up to 30% by reducing the speed of air movement reaching a building (providing a ‘wind break’) and/or reducing the temperature difference between existing and incoming air.

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. 211 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

Britain in Bloom with the RHS
UK’s biggest community gardening campaign with up to 300,000 passionate local volunteers who work year-round to keep our neighbourhoods and streets green, clean and thriving
Bloom started by the British Tourist Authority as a way to attract visitors to the UK through floral displays. In 2001, the RHS took over as organisers & have developed the campaign to include greater focus on community participation & environmental responsibility
In 2006, the RHS launched a new grass roots level for Bloom – It’s Your Neighbourhood (IYN) is aimed at small volunteer groups (e.g. youth groups; ‘Friends of’ groups etc.) and has grown from 342 to nearly 2,000 groups
Since 1964, Bloom’s evolved from what many saw as a rural hanging basket competition to a major socio / environmental campaign that’s improving villages, towns and cities across UK

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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