What is the RHS Good For?

What is the RHS Good For?

Diarmuid Gavin Garden Recreated

I declare an interest as I have a love hate relationship with the Royal Horticultural Society. As a national institution and registered charity I would prefer if it were more inclusive and less overtly commercial. Since rejoining after a few years break I expected to start this note on the negatives but based on the last few months that would be wrong so I leave them and my personal views to the last paragraph.

Where is the RHS Excelling

  • With an international horticultural reputation the RHS makes a strong  contribution to British culture, tourism and education sectors.
  • The society is working harder than ever to increase the connections with children, schools and communities.
  • The open sharing of knowledge through multiple channels is priceless.
  • Campaigning and acting as a catylist with other organisations is creating a bigger impact with Greening Grey Britain, Britain in Bloom, National Gardening week, and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.
  • It is summer and the gardens are all looking in good fettle. The developments at Harlow Carr since the society took over from the Northern Horticultural Society demonstrate the strength of the RHS.
  • Gardening qualifications, scientific developments, libraries, partner gardens and plant trials are not headline grabbers but contribute to the membership ‘feel good factors’.

 Negatives or ‘What The RHS is not Good For’

  • As a charity benefiting from the tax breaks and ‘public’ support is it fulfilling all the requirements to enjoy this support.
  • The society has £96 million held in cash and investments which is well in excess of the annual income of £73m. Even bearing in mind the new garden in Salford this seems excessively conservative.
  • On one level the RHS is a glee club for the county and wanabee set. Evidenced by all the luvvies at Chelsea where social climbers out number horticultural climbers and scramblers.
  • There is an appearance of commercial and personal vested interests & cliquishness.
  • The Chatsworth flower show could be renamed a clothes show with flowers.
  • My experience as a volunteer at the RHS was frustrating due to the corporate ethos and management of the time (2005-2009).





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