The Royal Horticultural Society is a leading UK-based charity that has been inspiring and helping people to excel in the art of gardening since 1804. As the world's foremost gardening charity, it aims to fire up people's passion about gardening and teach them about the science and art of horticulture.
The RHS employs guiding principles in everything it does: these aim to inspire, involve and inform people about horticulture and to improve their knowledge and skills, to benefit the environment for future generations. The charity undertakes gardening projects to transform local communities and it also provides a platform for gardeners to build and share expert knowledge.
It runs numerous campaigns to get the community more involved in gardening, including It's Your Neighbourhood and Britain in Bloom. The initiatives are aimed at improving local areas and spurring residents to take charge of the horticultural projects, with the RHS's help and guidance.
Charity bosses want to make horticulture a career to be proud of. They strive to provide a great place to work for their own staff, with effective business practices in place to ensure optimum income for the worthy causes the RHS supports.
The charity also runs five beautiful partner gardens across the UK, four of which are open to the public and one that's due to open in 2020. They offer excellent opportunities for family days out, school visits and group visits, as they have dining facilities and plant shops where every purchase supports the charity's work.
Hyde Hall, Essex
Hyde Hall garden in Essex had been a working farm for centuries when Dick and Helen Robinson took up residence in 1955. There was no garden at the time and only six trees on a windswept hill. The land had become a dumping ground for all kinds of rubbish, so the Robinsons began to clean it up.
Helen cleared areas around the 18th century hall to plant a vegetable garden and herbaceous borders and also bought 60 young trees. She died, aged 85, in September 2004, after becoming one of the most renowned amateur gardeners of the 20th century. In 1976, Hyde Hall Gardens Trust was established to support the facility and in 1993, the Trust bequeathed the site to the RHS. It was revamped to accommodate growing visitor numbers, and a 10-million-gallon reservoir was installed to provide extra irrigation. Today, it remains a thriving visitor centre.
Harlow Carr, Yorkshire
Harlow Carr in Harrogate, is a 26-acre site that had been run by the Northern Horticultural Society since 1950. When the RHC merged with the regional society in 2001, it took over the running of Harlow Carr, which provides a wide variety of growing landscapes, including wild flower meadows and woodland. There is also a hedgehog-friendly garden and a kitchen garden, including raised beds for vegetables, fruit and herbs, willow beds and flowers.
Rosemoor Garden, Devon
Following the death of Robert Walpole (the Earl of Orford) in 1931, his daughter Lady Anne Palmer and her mother took up residence at Rosemoor, around one mile south of Great Torrington. Lady Anne described the garden at the time as "dull" and she set to work improving it.
She and her husband ran a dairy farm there for some years after World War II. In 1959, after she met renowned horticulturalist Collingwood Ingram, Lady Anne began transforming the garden paradise, using cuttings he had given her. She travelled across the world collecting exotic plants and today, Rosemoor Garden has around 4,000 plants from New Zealand, South America, Japan, Papua New Guinea and the USA.
RHS Wisley, Surrey
Located in Woking, Wisley garden is part of a 60-acre estate. It was created by scientist and inventor George Fergusson Wilson, who was also a keen gardener, in 1878. After he bought the site, he built what he called the Oakwood Experimental Garden. His dream was to grow "difficult" plants such as Japanese iris, gentians, lilies, primulas and a selection of water plants.
The RHS was given Wisley in 1903, including the garden and wooded farmlands. Today's garden area, Oakwood, was formerly known as the Wild Garden and is a direct descendant of Fergusson's original garden. While Wisley was initially an ornamental garden, it soon assumed an educational and scientific role by opening a small laboratory to train young people as professional gardeners.
The RHS also carried out successful trials of cultivating vegetables and fruit at Wisley, where combined with teaching people how to enjoy horticulture, they remain an integral part of the society's work.
Bridgewater, Greater Manchester
Restoration work is underway at the RHS's latest garden. Bridgewater is a 154-acre site at Worsley New Hall, Salford. When it opens in 2020, it will be Europe's largest gardening project and the charity's first new public garden in 17 years. It will be a place where the local community can visit to see a selection of world-class plants and facilities, including one of the UK's largest walled kitchen gardens, measuring 11 acres. There will also be a new Learning Centre to improve school children's knowledge of horticulture.
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