Science Strategy unveiled

The five-year plan focuses on ensuring the UK’s 27 million gardeners have the tools they will need to address challenges they will face in the future.

Confronting the threats to gardens from climate change and the impact of new pests and diseases are among the key objectives of our new Science Strategy, which was unveiled on 29 October during the annual RHS John MacLeod Lecture.

Key areas will include:

  • Improving the detection, identification and management of garden pests & diseases
  • Promoting environmentally-sound gardening practices, and exploring how gardens can support health and wellbeing
  • Working with gardeners to share the latest intelligence on garden plants and harness their on-the-ground knowledge to guide and support RHS research

RHS Director of Science Dr Alistair Griffiths believes the strategy will see a step change in the way cultivated plants are protected, promoted and perceived. He said:

"The RHS is determined to ensure that as the population increases... and resources become more limited, gardeners will have the knowledge, expertise and support they will need to not just survive, but thrive in a changing world.

"Over the coming years we will be looking at the role cultivated plants and gardens can play in improving the environment, from capturing pollutants to reducing the risks of flooding in our cities.

"We’ll be looking at the changes gardeners can make in order to maintain the nation's cherished gardens while being more eco-friendly, including the sustainable use of energy and water.

"We are committed to building a more resilient gardening community that enjoys gardens, understands the critical role of plants, and manages its impact on the environment for the benefit of people, plants and the planet."

Forthcoming RHS research projects

Climate change Plant adaptation to climate change – experiment to explore the ability of selected plants to withstand increasingly common extreme weather events such as intense rainfall or drought conditions.
The sustainability of gardening Explore the value and potential benefits of grey water (previously-used water, such as for baths or washing up) for use in the garden – analyse the long-term impacts on human and soil health.
Human health and wellbeing Work with the Universities of Sheffield and Virginia to investigate the influence of gardens on human health and wellbeing. The research will largely focus on the environmental and social impact of the loss of front gardens.
Plant health in gardens Biosecurity management for gardens and gardeners – developing a suite of tools for gardeners to help them prepare for and raise awareness of the impact of new (and established) pests and diseases.

New challenges: new opportunities

To support the delivery of the strategy, the RHS will build the first-ever dedicated UK centre of scientific excellence in horticultural and environmental science, horticultural taxonomy and plant health.
This new facility will be an inspiring visitor destination built at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, and will become the national knowledge bank of ornamental horticulture, gardens and gardening when it opens in 2019.

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.