TV Gardener visits the UK’s School Gardening Team of the Year

Tuesday 7 June 2016

On 25 May 2016, students at Palmerston School in Woolton welcomed a very special visitor, TV gardening expert Frances Tophill. Frances, who is a regular presenter on BBC TV Gardeners’ World programme, joined the pupils for a day of gardening as part of their prize for being crowned Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) School Gardening Team of the Year 2015.

Palmerston School, whose students have severe and profound learning difficulties, impressed the competition judges in 2015 with their incredible teamwork and enthusiasm. The students demonstrated how they use gardening to improve sensory perception and motor skills, while developing their ability to work together and tackle big projects.

With only a very small garden of its own Palmerston makes use of the garden at neighbouring St. Vincent’s School in West Derby to pursue its horticultural aims. Next year however, the school will be moving to a newly built site that will mean the students will have their own larger garden to learn in.

As well as providing more space for the pupils, the move will enable Palmerston to take possession of the main RHS competition prize, a top-of-the-range greenhouse donated by Keder Greenhouses.

During the school visit Frances and the students travelled to St. Vincent’s to weed and tidy the vegetable plots and plant runner beans and peas that had been donated by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.

The group then travelled back to Palmerston and joined the rest of the school for a mass viewing of a video the gardening team had made as part of their entry to the RHS competition. The inspirational recording highlighted the impact gardening has had on them, their school and the wider community.

Mary Honess, a teacher at Palmerston School who nominated the group and leads the gardening activity, said: “Winning this award has been such a boost for the students who have worked so hard over the past couple of years. Horticulture is an important subject for our students as they can all make a contribution, no matter how big or small, while learning new skills that will equip them for the future.”

Horticulturist, television presenter and RHS School Gardeners of the Year judge Frances Tophill said: “Spending the day with the students at Palmerston was such a rewarding and fun experience. It was amazing to see how they all came alive in the garden and helped each other carry out different tasks. I am looking forward to returning next year to help them get started in their new greenhouse!”

Sarah Cathcart, RHS Head of Education and Learning, said: “The RHS School Gardeners of the Year is a fantastic way to showcase the talent of the country’s young horticulturists, involve more schools in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and enthuse more children and young people about the benefits of horticulture and the diverse career opportunities it can provide. Horticulture can also be a fantastic way for students with learning difficulties to develop key skills that will enable them to live with a greater degree of independence in the future.”

RHS School Gardeners of the Year is the flagship competition organised by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. The competition recently closed for entries for this year and the finalists are due to be announced soon.

For more information please contact Garfield Myrie in the RHS press office on 0207 821 3060 or email:


Notes to editors

About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening actively involves more than 29,000 schools and educational organisations across the UK in horticulture. It aims to inspire young people about plants, gardening and their environment and consider further education and careers in horticulture and science. Through gardening they learn about healthy food and wildlife as well as important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation. Resources including information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS Education team and RHS Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors. Schools and youth organisations can sign up to RHS Campaign for School Gardening online:

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, 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. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, 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