On Thursday 24 June, the UK’s first dedicated gardening science hub, surrounded by four acres of ‘living laboratories’, will open its gates to the public at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey.
Six years in the making, ‘RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science’, will showcase the extraordinary world of horticultural science like never before, with the aim of helping to create a greener future.
A large interactive exhibition space will explore ways we can adapt to and mitigate against climate change in our gardens, to boost wellbeing, the environment and to enable wildlife and plants to flourish.
Seventy RHS scientists and students have now moved into the new state-of-the-art lab facilities and are working on multiple projects such as discovering the best plants to soak up pollution, ease localised flooding, capture carbon and cool cities.
Visitors and school children will be able to watch live experiments as they happen and speak directly 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 gardens and gardening improve our health and the environment in powerful and wide-reaching ways.
“Millions more people are now gardening, adding plants to previously paved over spaces. We want our science to help supercharge gardens and deliver maximum benefits from healthy plants for people and the planet.
“The purpose of RHS Hilltop is to present to the public what we know so far but also to intensify our research so we can continue to find solutions to some of 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 brimming with ideas that reflect the latest research for people to take away and incorporate at home, in schools and in communities.
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, in order to create the first evidence-based blueprint for a wellbeing garden.
Ann-Marie Powell has designed The Wildlife Garden which is rich in plant diversity and contains large water features designed to attract and provide a haven for 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 as well as a demonstration kitchen
Professor Griffiths adds; “Gardening science has always been at the heart of our work and 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 and 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.”