RHS to build collection of 400,000 garden plants as part of new science center

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A gardener walks through the Wellness Garden in front of RHS Hilltop

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) wants to build a collection of the UK’s 400,000 garden plants as part of its new science center, she said.

He plans to expand the “herbarium”, which already stores 90,000 dried plant specimens, to create a database of garden plant varieties and their uses for the environment, health and well-being.

The herbarium is part of a new £ 35million RHS Hilltop Science Center which has officially opened in the charity’s Wisley Gardens in Surrey.

The new center contains modern laboratories to identify and research plant pests and diseases, as well as to conduct research in areas ranging from peat alternatives to the most efficient sprinkler systems.

Aerial view of RHS Hilltop
The £ 35million RHS Hilltop Science Center which officially opened this week (Oliver Dixon / RHS / PA)

RHS Hilltop also includes a library of over 28,000 books, including one dating from the 16th century with illustrations and information on plants such as potatoes, tobacco, and marigolds recently brought back from the Americas.

There is also an exhibition space, auditorium, teaching studios, offices and a café, and around 70 scientists and students will be based there, the RHS said.

It is surrounded by a series of gardens focused on how the colors, shapes and smells of plants can affect well-being, planting for wildlife and growing food from around the world, and will allow visitors to contribute to research through interactive exhibits on the subjects.

Sue Biggs, Managing Director of RHS, said: “We know that together the UK’s 30 million gardeners can play an important role in mitigating climate change, preventing the spread of pests and diseases. dangerous and understanding how gardens make us feel better.

Team leader Heather Cooke makes final preparations for the animal garden at RHS Hilltop (Oliver Dixon / RHS / PA)
Team leader Heather Cooke makes final preparations for the animal garden at RHS Hilltop (Oliver Dixon / RHS / PA)

“The opening of RHS Hilltop today ushers in a new ‘golden era’ in gardening science, enabling us to better equip the gardeners of today and tomorrow with the knowledge they need to help their gardens and themselves to thrive. “

Regarding the herbarium, Professor Alistair Griffiths, Scientific Director of RHS, said: “In the UK we have a great diversity of cultivated plants, originating from all over the world, and all of them have potential as solutions based on the herbarium. nature.

“We will be working on a database of garden plants and their uses from the point of view of the environment, health and well-being. “

He said the RHS was keen to conduct research and provide information on plant characteristics to provide solutions in areas such as supporting pollinators, storing carbon and contributing to human well-being.


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