Minister Praises Horticulture Sector at Parliamentary Launch of Ornamental Horticulture Action Plan

Thursday 21 January 2016

Representatives from across the horticulture industry came together on 19 January for the parliamentary launch of the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Action Plan at the Palace of Westminster.

Hosted by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon the event brought together Defra Minister George Eustice MP, members of the Houses of Commons and Lords and representatives from across the horticultural sector.

Mr Eustice, the Government Minister of State for Farming, Food and the Marine Environment, who holds an HND in Commercial Horticulture, praised the Horticulture sector for coming together to create the plan, saying: “I welcome the work that you’ve all done to put together this action plan. It does include asks of government, but what I’m reassured by, as well, is that in {the plan} there are lots of commitments from industry to help themselves and to actually move forward certain projects.”

He went on to reaffirm his commitment to supporting the sector, he said: “I want to thank you all for all of the hard work that you’ve done to put into this action plan I think it’s very important. This is a crucial, vital industry about which I am passionate about and if there’s anything I can do to help you implement this plan and take it forward I’m more than willing to do all I can.”

In a wide-ranging speech the Minister touched on the need to change perceptions of the sector and attract talented graduates into the industry. He also spoke about the importance of the supply chain, and the need to work towards greater parity and greater sharing of risk between smaller fragmented producers and larger businesses.

The Ornamental Horticulture Action Plan , which is the result of close collaboration between industry experts facilitated by Defra, identifies 12 priority areas where government and industry could work together to encourage and aid long-term growth.

Among the changes the sector would like to see over the next five years are for:

• Gardening considered as a treatment on the NHS
• Public bodies and publicly funded works and projects to use UK plants
• International garden expo to be created to showcase UK horticulture
• Modernisation of the supply chain to improve relationships and competitiveness and reduce dependence on imports
• Introduction of a higher level of horticultural apprenticeship to addresses skills shortages
• Garden centres and retailers should be exempted from the Sunday Trading Act

In her opening address Sue Biggs, Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) said, “It is great to see UK horticulture unified and focussed and working together to take on the challenges that have for far too long held this sector back. Horticulture has a vital part to play in the future of this country – not only for the fiscal health of this nation with its £10.4bn contribution to the UK economy. But also for the health and well-being of our country, of our people, our plants and our environment.”

Carol Paris, Chief Executive of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) added “The future is bright however, and I believe we are entering a golden age for the horticulture industry. By taking horticulture into the realms of health, environmental and societal benefits – more than just looking pretty – we are developing new markets and skills as well as tackling some of the biggest national and global problems we face. We have never seen lasting collaboration on this scale before, and it is definitely starting to bear fruit.”

RHS Young Ambassador – 10 year old George Hassall from Manchester A self-confessed ‘nature nerd’ and ‘gardening geek’, spoke passionately about his interest in gardening and wildlife and the benefits that it brings. He said, “I know a lot of my friends love their Xbox – I’m not saying that they should stop playing it altogether but take 5 minutes, go outside into the garden and get some fresh air and it will make you feel a lot better.” Following an interest development at home and through his school gardening club George is keen to champion gardening as he moves to high school next year.

The organisations behind the development of the first ever cross-sector action plan include the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, Grow Careers, AHDB Horticulture, the Horticulture Innovations Partnership, the Horticultural Trades Association, Landex, the National Farmers’ Union, the Royal Horticultural Society and Young Hort. These organisations will continue to guide its development over the next five years.

The full plan can be downloaded from 


Notes to editors

Media Contacts

HTA Media office
Tel: 0118 9303132

RHS Media Contacts
Garfield Myrie - PR Manager Science and Government Relations
Tel: 0207 821 3060
Mobile: 07590 930047

Images of the event are available from both media offices.

The 12 asks of industry and government will focus on:

1. Horticulture careers: apprenticeships, GrowCareers and Ambassadors
2. Horticulture and the National Curriculum in England
3. Commercial and promotion: promoting garden tourism through VisitBritain, GREAT Britain campaign, Heritage Lottery Fund
4. Sunday Trading: to make the case for garden retailers to be exempt from the Sunday Trading Act
5. Garden Expo: to support an international garden exposition
6. Modernisation of the supply chain: improve the sector’s competitiveness and encourage sustainable trading relationships through the development of a best practice hub and new mechanisms to buy UK grown plants
7. Financial incentives: identify and harness the financial mechanism, including VAT regimes, that could help level the playing field between UK sector and its European competitors
8. Science R&D: to harness government revenue streams to drive innovation, conserve, identify and harness the potential of plants
9. Sustainable resourcing of the horticulture sector: watering, growing media, pesticides, land for development, energy and waste management. Secure access to essential resources for growers to support long-term planning by the sector
10. Plant health and the National Pollinator Strategy: Plant health: develop an integrated and robust response to the threat from pests by developing joined-up rapid reaction. Encourage environmental and pollinator-friendly behaviours
11. Human health and horticulture: building the case for horticulture’s role supporting well-being and as a treatment for specific physical and mental conditions
12. Society and horticulture: more and better-quality green infrastructure in towns and cities, with planners given the tools to incorporate these into new and existing developments

Please use the following links to learn more about the organisations behind the plan:
Chartered Institute of Horticulture:
AHDB Horticulture:
Horticulture Innovation Partnership:
Horticultural Trades Association:
National Farmers Union:
Royal Horticultural Society:

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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

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