Hosted by the RHS at the Lindley Hall in London, the John MacLeod Annual Lecture was created to highlight important and inspiring topics on horticultural science. A broad audience of RHS members, scientists, policy makers and the media is invited every year to hear luminaries of the scientific field give talks on major research projects or new areas of thought.

The 2016 lecture also saw the release of an update to the RHS Science Strategy

2016 lecture: Urban Horticulture – Repairing the Rift?

Dr Ross CameronPutting Humans Back In Touch With Their Own Ecology
The John MacLeod lecture 2016 was given by Dr Ross Cameron from the University of Sheffield. Ross discussed how, in a rapidly urbanising world, horticulture has a key role to play in ensuring that humans don’t lose touch with their basic ecological requirements. He outlined the benefits horticulture (and plants in general) provide to those of us who live in towns and cities (so-called 'ecosystem services'). By examining contemporary human society through an ‘ecological lens’, the presentation discussed:

  • How well-adapted humans are to this urban (largely grey) environment
  • The dangers around ‘nature deficit syndrome’
  • Urban green infrastructure – where does horticulture fit in with this urban world?
  • Why is horticulture important? How does horticultural science help us understand the relationships between green infrastructure and humans, and how can the positive relationships be optimised?

Ross provided an overview of how urban horticulture influences a number of ecosystem services, including its contribution to:

  1. Human health and well-being
  2. Environmental performance of our cities
  3. Social capital
  4. Biodiversity
  5. The economy

He also examined how horticulture particularly deals with the detail – it can improve functionality of green infrastructure and enhance the quality of our living spaces and thus our lifestyles. In essence, horticulture is the glue that brings humans back to their own ecological framework, and promotes a more sustainable future for our species.

The lecture took place on Thursday 10 November at 4pm in the RHS Lindley Hall, London SW1P 2QW.
For information on future lectures please contact

Preview to the 2016 John MacLeod Annual Lecture: Urban Horticulture – Repairing the Rift?


Useful links


The late professor John MacLeodAbout Professor John MacLeod

The lecture's namesake, Professor John MacLeod, who died in 2010, was a plant scientist and Professor of Horticulture at the RHS. He was also chairman of the RHS Scientific Committee, and was a powerful advocate for horticultural science. He was acutely aware of its pressing relevance in sustaining the natural environment and world food supplies.

Past speakers include Dr William Bird, a practising GP in the UK, and a specialist in ‘Natural Health Services’, and Dr Matilda van den Bosch from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Their 2014 talk on Health, Wellbeing and Horticulture looked at the beneficial role of ornamental plants, gardening and gardens to people and society.

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