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RHS announces most extensive programme of investment in its history

20 December 2011

Lease of Lawrence Hall raises £18 million for the charity to invest in horticulture

The Royal Horticultural Society has been the force behind gardening for 207 years. In 2012 the charity will launch a substantial programme of innovation and modernisation, which will enable the RHS to involve, educate and inspire millions more gardeners throughout the country.

This campaign is made possible by the RHS raising £18 million, from its own resources, for investment and the Society will also embark on a major fundraising campaign to raise a further £9 million. The combined investment fund of £27 million will allow the charity, over the next five years, to make some of the most significant and exciting changes in its history.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “Our plans will help transform communities, add much needed scientific knowledge and safeguard horticulture for the benefit of future generations and the environment. If you care about our planet, you should care about plants and that’s why we want everyone to share the best in gardening.

“We believe passionately in the need to invest in the future of horticulture and give more people more opportunities to garden.”

£18 million has come from granting a 999 year lease of the RHS’ Lawrence Hall and Conference Centre in London to Westminster School, the perfect partner to protect the heritage of the building. Under this agreement the RHS will continue to use these facilities for its existing four London Flower Shows.

Over the next five years this major investment programme will see the charity becoming more accessible and relevant to RHS members and to millions of people in the UK, as well as inspiring a worldwide audience of gardeners. The initiatives planned include:

RHS Lindley Library & Hall, London
The RHS plans to redevelop the Lindley Hall and Library to create a stunning, new space for a larger, open plan library and exhibition gallery. Through increased London Flower Shows, exhibitions, lectures, events and courses, everyone would, for the first time, be able to enjoy the RHS’ Collections of literary and botanical art treasures. These are of international significance and chart 500 years of UK gardening history.

Horticultural Science
The Society plans to create a world-class scientific research centre for the benefit of all gardeners and the environment. With the Government and universities cutting back on research expenditure, there is an urgent need to make this investment and it would put the RHS at the forefront of gardening science.

RHS Urban Garden
The RHS plans to create its first inner city garden as an oasis of green for local residents, offering educational initiatives, including school visits, workshops and inspirational gardening courses. Working with local schools and community groups the garden would offer hands on learning experiences, such as Grow Your Own workshops. A wide variety of locations and opportunities will be explored in the search for this garden.

RHS Regional Centres
Across the UK, in urban and rural locations, the RHS plans to work with partners to create regional centres based at RHS gardens or partner colleges and gardens. The first two centres are planned to open during 2012. Working in all forms of community gardening, the charity would support local groups such as Britain in Bloom, It’s Your Neighbourhood, local gardening clubs and schools involved in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, to recruit more supporters and create links with local businesses to ensure sustainable funding.

RHS Online
The RHS plans to invest in its online presence to provide a more engaging, interactive website with a wealth of ideas and expertise, which would be the first port of call for all levels of gardeners. The site would include enhanced video content and new online tools and apps aimed at helping gardeners and providing a voice for them.

RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
To give the one million adults and children who visit RHS Wisley annually an inspirational and interactive learning experience, the RHS plans include creating two additional teaching rooms, and a new exhibition space and event facility. More space would be created to enable specialist nurseries to promote British grown, rare and unusual plants with additional room to enjoy the most extensive range of horticultural books on sale for gardeners in the UK. A new restaurant will be added and RHS Wisley’s entrance transformed to uplift the sense of arrival that befits a garden of such international importance.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex
The plan is to dramatically increase spectacular horticultural content at RHS Hyde Hall, including creating the UK’s largest cultivated perennial meadow and a beautiful Mediterranean edible garden, featuring olives, lavender and grapevines. A new Learning Centre would also be created for children and adults to develop their gardening skills, meaning all four RHS gardens would now have significant education facilities.
 

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