Ornamental Horticulture Sector Unveils Plan to Grow £10 Billion Sector

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Lord Heseltine backs move to boost undervalued industry at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

• Action plan to stimulate growth unveiled at RHS Chelsea Flower Show
• Leading national organisations back initiative
• Expertise from within sector and beyond will guide development

On Wednesday 20 May leaders from across the £10 billion a year ornamental horticulture sector will launch a 12 point action plan designed to help secure the future of the industry.

The plan, which is the result of six months of meetings between industry experts facilitated by Defra, identifies a dozen 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
• A review of the Sunday Trading Act

Speaking about the plan, ornamental roundtable meeting chair and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Director General Sue Biggs says: “This is a truly historic day for the ornamental horticulture sector because it marks the beginning of the next phase of growth for the industry we all love.


“Annually horticulture contributes £10.4 billion to the UK economy and employs around 300,000 people. It is a major economic force that has the potential to contribute even more, and we hope this plan will be a major step in our journey to overcoming the barriers that are holding the sector back.

“If we hadn’t come together to develop this plan,” Sue Biggs said, “the likelihood is that we would be fighting on many different fronts, with varying degrees of success, to highlight our relevance and justify our existence. Now we are united, focused and more determined than ever to ensure that the 12-point action plan is adopted, and that the benefits of a growing ornamental horticulture sector are enjoyed by generations to come.”

RHS Vice President Lord Heseltine said: “Horticulture has an important role to play, not just at the community level, but also across education, training, housing, health, business and employment. By drawing these areas together in a coherent strategy we can harness the great potential of the ornamental horticultural sector.”

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 and build on its legacy to support the
development of garden cities

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 and industry revenue streams to drive innovation, conserve, identify and harness the potential of plants

9. Sustainable resourcing of the horticulture sector: water use, growing media, pesticides, land for development, energy and waste management. Increase 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
The organisations behind the development of the first-ever cross-sector action plan include the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, Grow Careers, the Horticultural Development Company, the Horticulture Innovations Partnership, the Horticultural Trades Association, Landex, Lantra, the National Farmers’ Union, the RHS and YoungHort. These organisations will continue to guide its development over the next five years.

A representative from the horticultural sector will lead and drive each of the 12 challenge areas and will feed intelligence into a steering group. To ensure rigour, each group will be encouraged to draw on expertise from both within the sector and beyond, including from across government, to inform their work.


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Garfield Myrie in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3060 or email garfieldmyrie@rhs.org.uk

Please use the following links to learn more about the organisations behind the plan:

Chartered Institute of Horticulture: The Chartered Institute of Horticulture is the authoritative organisation representing those professionally engaged in horticulture in the UK and Ireland: www.horticulture.org.uk
Grow is an initiative set up by a group of influential organisations within the horticulture industry to inform people about horticultural careers and the range of fantastic opportunities horticulture has to offer: www.growcareers.info

Horticultural Development Company (HDC) was established on 1 July 1986 with a remit to fund research and development and communicate the results to growers: www.hdc.org.uk 
Horticulture Innovation Partnership (HIP): The HIP is an innovative ‘think tank’ that will scope out a strategy to meet the technical requirements for the industry, and will also become a focal point of contact and conduit for the supply chain, supporting the development and exploitation of scientific opportunities for business and society: www.hip.org.uk

Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is a modern, leading-edge trade association representing the UK garden industry: www.the-hta.org.uk

Landex - ‘Land Based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence’ is a subscriber organisation that through its membership and resources will focus on improving the quality of service delivered by all members to that of the very best in the sector: www.landex.org.uk

Lantra is the UK’s Sector Skills Council for land-based and environmental industries who are committed to helping land-based and environmental businesses access the training, qualifications, skills and knowledge they need: www.lantra.co.uk

National Farmers Union: The NFU champions British farming and growing and provides professional representation and services to its Farmer and Grower members: www.nfuonline.com
Royal Horticultural Society: The RHS is world’s leading gardening charity. It has a membership of more than 420, 000 and is the force behind the world’s most inspirational flower shows including the RHS Chelsea Flower Show: www.rhs.org.uk

YoungHort is a new initiative set up in December 2013 by a team of young horticulturists to promote horticultural careers to other young people: www.younghort.com

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 over 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: 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