James Lawrence

James manages a team of horticultural advisors who provide advice to members on a range of horticultural issues online, by phone, by post and in person at RHS Garden Centres and RHS Shows

What do you do?

I ensure our members receive accurate and helpful responses to their horticultural questions by monitoring enquiries. I support face-to-face enquiries at RHS Garden Wisley by ensuring the advice desk in the Hilltop library is fully equipped and designed to deliver the best possible service. I also help plan and facilitate the advisory talks and ‘question and answer’ sessions that run as part of Hilltop Live Events.

Along with others members of the advice team I provide training for RHS staff giving advice at shows or in our gardens. I am also working on projects that explore specific plant combinations for different garden conditions.

“My role as Principal Horticultural Advisor lets me combine my horticultural knowledge and experience with great customer service.”

Why is your team’s research important?

The research and work undertaken by Gardening Advice enables RHS members and the public to access information on a huge range of horticultural topics and plant profiles. We continue to develop new ways to provide members with the most up-to-date and relevant information. It makes horticulture accessible to all.

Projects I’m working on now

  • Reviewing the face-to-face advisory offering to ensure we have safe and secure methods of contact with members who are using the advice service and that we offer more options for members to contact the service
  • Plant combinations for specific garden conditions. This is a project that will help members to select a group of plants that should thrive in specific garden conditions. The project aims to link planting design and plant selection with practical function and science to provide plant combination ideas that look good, perform well and help the environment by reducing the need for pest control, watering and feeding.

Completed projects

  • I co-ordinated the move of RHS members’ advice to the Wisley Welcome building
  • I redesigned the gardening advice offering so my team can answer members’ enquiries as efficiently as possible and through different methods of communication. More than 85% of our enquiries now come in via our online portal and we have also extended our phone service to meet a rising demand. We also provide a face-to-face advice service at selected times across our different garden sites. Advice staff are intrinsic to Hilltop Live presentations and talks.


I have helped customers, students and members to learn, develop and discover a passion for horticulture through plant selection, practical lessons and advice.

The volume of queries from members has grown rapidly and we have risen to the challenge by providing efficiency improvements to the services offered by RHS Gardening Advice.
A specific stand-out achievement was when the first batch of my third-year students received their degrees and one student won a competition to have a learning garden built as part of the new RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science.


  • A regular contributor to advice articles in The Garden members’ magazine and other publications such as Grow Your Own magazine.

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.