RHS Chelsea Flower Show Appeal Launch

Thursday 15 May 2014

RHS Chelsea to raise funds for secondary school gardening and apprentices

British horticulture is challenged by a skills gap and not enough young people are coming into the industry*. While the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening has reached out to more than half of UK primary schools, only 36% of secondary schools in the UK have joined up to the campaign.

The RHS Chelsea Appeal 2014 at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show (20–24 May) is raising funds to help the charity engage with more secondary schools. The charity is also raising funds to create more horticultural apprentice positions over the next five years at its four gardens: RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, RHS Garden Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex and RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon.

RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, said: “Horticulture is a vibrant, challenging and diverse industry with great job prospects. Career paths include: botanist, nursery staff, designer, florist, horticulturist, plant collector, landscape architect, entrepreneur, journalist, TV presenter and many more. However, research over the last few years for the industry-wide Horticulture Matters campaign*, aiming to raise the profile of careers in horticulture, has found that 70% of 18-year-olds believe that horticultural careers should only be considered by people who have ‘failed academically**’.

“We also know that more than 80% of secondary school teachers who discussed careers with their pupils said that they themselves were not aware of the vast opportunities offered by a career in horticulture.***”

Sue recently gathered together some of Britain’s best-known and most inspiring horticulturists and went to Deptford Green Secondary School in southeast London to ask pupils aged between 14 and 16 what they knew about horticulture, and to talk about careers in horticulture – see a short film of the day here.

Sue continued, “It was extraordinary how quickly the pupils went from being quite unengaged with the subject, mainly as they knew so little, to being very enthusiastic and asking lots of questions – which makes us even more confident that once we get into secondary schools we can quickly make a positive impact.”

Visitors to the world-famous gardening show will be able to make a donation to receive a special RHS Chelsea Appeal 2014 badge. Fashion designer Paul Smith and TV personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen have joined a collection of other RHS supporters to create drawings of gardens, which will be auctioned off on eBay during RHS Chelsea Flower Show week (20 May – 25 May) to raise funds for the appeal, along with having new premium charity tickets available where all proceeds will go towards creating horticultural apprentices. These tickets are for the Thursday and Friday of the show www.rhs.org.uk


Notes to editors

For more information please contact the press office on 0207 821 3043 or pressoffice@rhs.org.uk  

* Follow the link below to the industry-wide Horticulture Matters report, with information about the green skills shortage. This report was launched in May 2013.

** A survey of 1,000 adults, aged 18 to 56+, across the whole of the United Kingdom in March 2012, revealed:
• Nearly 70% of 18-year-olds do not think gardening is a career to be proud of.
• Almost 50% of under-25-year-olds do not think gardening is a career to be proud of.
• 79% of over 40-year-olds do think gardening is a career to be proud of.
• Almost 50% of under-25-year-olds do not think gardening is a skilled career.
• Nearly 70% of 18-year-olds think gardening should only be considered as a career if you have failed academically.

*** Censuswide was commissioned by the RHS to conduct the Survey to 500 Senior School Teachers in March 2013:
• Of the 500 teachers questioned more than 91% discuss careers with pupils.
• Only 16% of the teachers, who discuss careers with pupils, highlight horticulture.
• 65% of teachers who discuss horticulture careers highlight Gardener roles.
• 61% of teachers who discuss horticulture careers highlight Landscape Designer roles.
• 22% of teachers who discuss horticulture careers highlight Sportsturf manager roles.
• 14% of teachers who discuss horticulture careers highlight Aboriculturist roles.
• 81% of teachers say they are not aware of the career development opportunities in horticulture.
• 22% of teachers say pupils would not be interested.
• 67% of teachers are not aware of horticultural qualifications.
• 84% of teachers have not been given information about horticulture in the last three years.
• Of the 15% who were given information 84% found it useful.

Supporters who have drawn gardens or pictures celebrating RHS Chelsea Flower Show to be auctioned off to raise funds for the RHS Chelsea Appeal 2014 include:
Gillian Ayres, CBE
Stephen Farthing
Timothy Hyman
Paul Smith, CBE, RDI
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen
Piers Morgan

For more information, please contact the RHS Press Office pressoffice@rhs.org.uk or call 020 7821 3043.

Images of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are available to download at www.photoshelter.com. Please email the RHS Press Office at showspr@rhs.org.uk  for instructions on how to create an account.

Full details of all exhibitors are available on the RHS Media Centre. Please visit http://press.rhs.org.uk/  

RHS Chelsea Flower Show (20 – 24 May 2013)
20 – 21 May RHS members only
22 – 24 May RHS members and non-members

20 – 23 May 8am – 8pm
24 May 8am – 5.30pm (sell off starts at 4pm)

Venue: Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3 4SL

To book tickets 0844 338 7546 or www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea  

Tickets must be booked in advance.

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 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. 210 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 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