Where visitors found out about horticultural issues that matter
The RHS Discovery zone was an interactive and informative part of The Great Pavilion, focusing on plant science and education in a fun and involving way.
This area hosted nine of the best scientific and educational exhibits from the world of horticulture.
RHS scientists and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening team have joined the UK Space Agency on an ‘out of this world’ educational project. A first for the UK, it will give half a million UK children the chance to become astrobiologists, sowing rocket seeds that have been to the International Space Station. This exhibit highlighted the past, present and future of scientific experimentation with plants in space.
Positive Power of Plants
Garden designer David Domoney teamed up with Thrive, a UK charity that uses gardening to bring about positive changes to people. The exhibit inspired visitors to see the power plants have to boost happiness and wellbeing. It was a unique experiment to answer 'which plant makes us the most happy'. Images of the top 20 plants were shown and using facial recognition, positive reactions from visitors were analysed to identify the favourite.
REEP's Anglo-Moroccan Garden Project
REEP (Religions, Education and Environment) is an educational charity that encourages environmental and spiritual awareness among young people, especially through gardening. The charity brought a display celebrating horticultural, intercultural and interfaith exchange in Britain and Morocco, based on a real project in Marrakesh. Using plants from both countries, it played on traditional Islamic and Renaissance garden forms.
Wadworth the Hop Cycle by Sparsholt College
The hop Humulus lupulus has, over centuries, provided flavourings and aromas for beer through different cultivars. This display told the story of this hop: its uses and properties, featuring two garden areas: plants that make or flavour alcoholic drinks, and a pub garden celebrating 140 years of brewing in Devizes, Wiltshire by Wadworth. There was even a dartboard planted with different coloured Sempervivum cultivars.
Plants and Soils Working Together
The British Ecological Society will celebrate the amazing nature of soil and demonstrate how soil, plants and other organisms create the gardens we love. Step into the underground and get up close to the microscopic world of nitrogen-fixing nodules and mycorrhizae. At the exhibit, it will be shown how worms contribute to soil fertility. Plants such as lupins, alfalfa and yellow trefoil demonstrated interactions between plants and soil.
Tobacco - friend or foe?
The Royal College of Pathologists, which studies human and veterinary diseases, explored the positive and negative effects of tobacco through the novel uses of tobacco plants (Nicotiana benthamiana) in preparing new treatments for ebola and HIV, which are important and topical viral infections (friend), as well as tobacco represented by the pathological effects of smoking in humans (foe).
Miracle-Gro’wers Learning Journey from Compost to Kitchen
This exhibit highlighted that growing food at school and at home will provide healthy, nutritious vegetables, fruit and edible flowers that will hopefully encourage everyone to eat ‘five-a-day’, and thereby reduce UK obesity. Schoolchildren helped to grow edible plants such as Nasturtium ‘Phoenix’, 20 different carrot cultivars, climbing courgette ‘Black Forest’ and raspberry ‘Ruby Beauty’, and gave their healthy eating ideas to visitors.
Forests: for gardens, for all, forever
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) showed some of the ways in which trees and woodland plants can be used in the garden. Visitors entered a world where the garden met the forest and explored the ways in which wood can be used, whether in the form of trees, tools, landscaping or structures. Visitors also discovered how their choices can help to ensure that gardens don't cost the earth and compromise sustainability.
Using recycled tree stumps, logs and dead hedging, Capel Manor College's exhibit was designed to show the aesthetic value of a stumpery (similar to a rockery but made with dead wood), the creation of wildlife habitats, and how such an environment can be used to grow food, for example mushrooms or the practice of 'Hugelkultur' – hill mounds of logs, branches and leaf mould, topped with soil and planted with vegetables.