Everything you need to know about RHS Urban Show 2024

An exciting new plant show that focuses on urban gardening and houseplants comes to the North (18 – 21 April 2024)

Philodendron scrambling over a light
April 2024 will see a brand new flower show coming to Manchester. It’s a departure from the traditional RHS show, not least because it will be housed entirely indoors, in the vast industrial space of a former railway. It’s an opportunity to focus on the growing movement of urban and city gardeners, and the increasing connection between horticulture, wellbeing and sustainable living. RHS Show Manager Lex Falleyn shares the ambition and aims of the RHS celebration of urban gardening.

“It’s a movement that already exists, we’re tapping into the scene that’s emerging here in Manchester, and around the country.”

RHS Urban Show shines light on city gardeners

“If you care for a plant, you are a gardener.” says Lex, “This show is for an audience we don’t specifically cater for with our current shows. People who live in an urban space and who are more interested small spaces and rental garden ideas.

Lex Fallon“There are so many people who developed an interest in gardening during lockdown, who got in to houseplants and now want to expand into their urban space. They might be relatively new to gardening and want to build their skills, specifically in a way they can apply to their lives, their homes and their environments.

“There have been London urban shows in the past, which had a similar kind of content, but they’ve been smaller in size and ambition. Lockdown made this initiative bolder, and give the RHS confidence that this is how we reach a new generation. I think lockdown made us all stop and think about our connection with the natural world and our own wellbeing.”

Diners in a cafe in Manchester

Why is urban greening so important?

83% of the UK currently lives in urban spaces, and that figure is expected to rise to 86% by 2030. At the same time, the planet is warming, by 2050 Manchester is predicted to have a climate comparable to Montevideo, Uruguay. 
As well as the environmental impact urban greening, there is also the positive effect being close to nature has on our mental and physical wellbeing. Data taken from Growing a Green Economy​ report shows that:

  • Green roof temperatures can be 15 - 20° cooler than conventional roofs and can reduce city-wide ambient temperatures by up to 2.7°
  • Cooling from urban trees and vegetation was predicted as saving up to £22 million in annual energy consumption across inner London alone
  • A study in Manchester found that urban tree units reduced runoff even more than grass – on average 170% of its area in summer and 145% of its area in winter
  • The value of removing air pollution by vegetation alone to the UK was calculated at £1.3bn in savings to the NHS in 2017
  • Research has shown that “83% more individuals engaged in social activity in green spaces as opposed to sparsely vegetated or concreted ones”
  • A “mid-estimate” of the reduction in crime due to well managed green space is about 2%, with potential cost savings of £361 million per year.
  • People who live within 500 metres of accessible green space are 24% more likely to meet 30 minutes of exercise levels of physical activity.

Dried grasses in a flower shop

What will be at the show?

Lex says, “We’re going to have a mixture of content, retail, talks, with maybe some practical workshops mixed in as well. The content is going to be horticultural, but through the lens of popular culture and interests – whether that’s linked with food and grow your own, or interior design and art, and everything has an emphasis on wellbeing.

Key features:

  • Discover innovative gardening and design inspiration for urban spaces.

  • Get practical advice and horticultural inspiration.

  • Experience interactive exhibits and awe-inspiring installations.

  • Take-home tips for using plants to improve wellbeing and gardening on a budget.

  • Delve into the social side of green urban entertainment and find out what’s happening in your community.

  • Find out how urban gardeners can save the world.

Visiting the RHS Urban Show will be an active, engaging, immersive experience, as Lex explains, “Being in a building means, like many urban dwellers, we’ll have restrictions on space therefore all the shows content will need to work harder. It is important that the exhibits aren’t just visually pleasing but that they offer added value to visitors via expert advice. A range of plant specialists will be on hand to suggest practical solutions for real-life planting problems; whether that be indoor or outdoor, at home or in the community; no question is too small.”

Depot Mayfield ManchesterThe Mayfield Depot venue and Manchester

The Depot is a very different venue for the RHS, it’s a former railway warehouse, known in Manchester for its music nights. Fittingly, the Depot sits adjacent to the first new park built in the city in 100 years. The inside space provides quite a plain, industrial backdrop for the greenery of the Urban Show, giving a great juxtaposition. Also the venue is minutes from Manchester Piccadilly Train Station and other public transport links, so it’s ideal to get to in a sustainable way.

“It’s really important the show is at the heart of Manchester because we want to represent the RHS in all parts of the country.” says Lex, “We love the young, industrial feel of Manchester. It’s a thriving, fun place to live. We opened RHS Bridgewater nearby in Salford, so it feels like there’s already a bit of momentum building, and Manchester has got such a rich horticultural history, it’s the perfect home for this show.”

Helena Pettit, RHS Director of Shows and GardensHelena Pettit, Director of Gardens & Shows said: “In recent years there’s been a real gardening boom and we believe more young people living on cities are now growing plants.

“So we are so excited to be bringing a new RHS Show dedicated to urban gardening to the centre of Manchester next year.  The RHS Urban Show aims to bring gardening to a new audience and demonstrate that if you have plants you are a gardener.

 “There is so much great work already happening across the city to make it greener”

“There is so much great work already happening across the city to make it greener and we are excited to help support this growing movement. We want to get even more people living in the UK’s second largest city inspired to grow plants and connect to the natural world.
“With over 80% of the UK population living in towns and cities, the new show will enable more urban dwellers to garden, especially where access to green spaces can be limited.”

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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.