Professor Alistair Griffiths

Alistair leads the RHS Science and Collections teams, supporting them as they undertake scientific research, care for our unique, world-class collections, and provide high quality, evidence-based advice on horticultural challenges

What do you do?

I lead a highly-skilled team of scientists, information specialists, advisors and librarians who are working to improve the health of people, plants, the environment and wildlife. I am also a member of the RHS Executive Leadership team.

We’re focused on evaluating and sharing up-to-date scientific knowledge and safeguarding our collections to advance the art, science and practice of horticulture and gardening.
I’m championing the relationship between gardening and health and wellbeing, and have implemented the five-year science strategy to guide RHS activities, raise awareness of gardeners’ environmental responsibilities and improve plant knowledge, plant health and human wellbeing.

I work alongside my team as they deliver the science strategy and I unlock a variety of resources for them to use as they ensure the RHS charity helps people to grow while remaining at the forefront of horticulture and gardening science.

“I am amazed how all life on earth, including human life, is completely dependent on plants for its existence. I’m passionate about optimising the cultural, environmental, social and economic potential of gardening and gardens to benefit the health of people and our planet.”

Why is your team’s research important?

Science for gardens and gardening is critical to provide solutions to some of the great challenges that we face such as climate change, managing pests and diseases, improving the health of people, the environment, wildlife and our planet.
No other organisation in the world focuses on the science of gardening. Without our work we wouldn’t have the global knowledge bank on gardening practises and garden plants available for improving identification and description of plants, monitoring plant health in gardens, advancing our understanding of the ecosystem benefits of gardens, and inspiring and informing people about the importance of plants and gardens.

Projects I’m working on now

I am passionate about science communication and the role of horticulture in promoting the health and wellbeing of the environment, plants and people.

Completed projects


I am a visiting Professor of Royal Holloway, University of London. I sit on the government’s Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable and chair the UK’s Horticultural Scientific Research and Development Group and the Health & Horticulture Forum. I am a UK representative of the International Society for Horticultural Science, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and of the Royal Society of Biology.
Prior to my role at the RHS, I worked as Head Scientist at the Eden Project, Cornwall.


PhD Students

  • Co-supervisor to Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui who is researching How do front garden landscapes influence health and well-being? at The University of Sheffield
  • Co-supervisor to Curtis Gubb who is researching Investigating the impact of plants on indoor air quality, a multiscale cross-disciplinary approach at The University of Reading
  • Co-supervisor to Emily Leggatt, who is researching Utilisation of the RHS rosemary cultivars for quality traits linked to aroma and taste at Royal Holloway, University of London

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.