On Thursday 24 June, the UK’s first dedicated gardening science hub will open. It’s surrounded by four acres of ‘living laboratories’ at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey.
It’s been Six years in the making. ‘RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science’, will showcase the extraordinary world of horticultural science like never before. The aim is to help create a greener future.
A large interactive exhibition space will explore ways we can adapt to and mitigate against climate change in our gardens. It will show how to boost wellbeing, the environment and enable wildlife to flourish.
70 scientists and students have now moved into the new state-of-the-art lab facilities.
They are working on projects such as discovering the best plants to soak up pollution, capture carbon and cool cities.
Visitors and school children will be able to watch live experiments as they happen. They can speak to scientists to learn more about their work.
RHS Director of Science and Collections, Professor Alistair Griffiths, says:
“Two centuries of horticultural research has shown that gardening improves our health in powerful ways.
“Millions more people are now gardening, adding plants to paved over spaces. We want our science to help supercharge gardens and deliver benefits.
“The purpose of RHS Hilltop is to present to the public what we know so far. We also want to intensify our research so we can continue to find solutions to the biggest challenges facing us today.”
Vast collections of dried plants, bugs, books and art that date back more than five centuries and provide the most complete record of the UK’s horticultural heritage will also be revealed for the first time.
Encompassing RHS Hilltop will be three new gardens. They are brimming with ideas that reflect the latest research for people to take away.
The Wellbeing Garden, designed by Matt Keightley, is a ‘living experimental’ garden. Visitor’s reactions to scents, sounds and sights, will be recorded to better understand the positive effects that plants can have on us. This will help create the first evidence-based blueprint for a wellbeing garden.
Ann-Marie Powell has designed The Wildlife Garden. It’s rich in plant diversity and contains large water features designed to attract birds, bees and insects.
The World Food Garden, also designed by Ann-Marie, will feature fruit, vegetables, herbs and edible plants from all over the world. There will also be a demonstration kitchen
Professor Griffiths adds:
“Gardening science has always been at the heart of our work. Today this is more important than ever as we try to create a more sustainable world.
“Thousands of school children visit RHS Wisley each year. We want to inspire and equip them with the knowledge they need to create a greener future and ensure that growing plants, gardens and helping nature will always be central to our way of life.”