The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has revealed that it will get four million pounds from the National Lottery funding to put towards a 5 year project. The project is located at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey and will include a new National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, the first of it’s kind in the world.
The size of the award shows the importance and positive influence of plants and gardening. Horticulture has proven to have a positive impact on some of the biggest issues facing people today, on their lives and their surroundings.
The new Centre will open to the public in 2020 and contain the very latest in research facilities and will enable the RHS to conserve and showcase over one million science and heritage items of national significance.
Among the items to be revealed will be the source of our modern potato, a Chilean potato plant brought back by Charles Darwin in 1834, and lavender collected in France in 1731.
More than 86,000 herbarium specimens, 24,000 insect specimens, 30,000 pieces of botanical art, 250,000 photographs and 100,000 books recording more than 500 years of gardening history, will be moved to the new Centre and many will also be shared online.
Three new three acre gardens created by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold-medal winning garden designers working alongside RHS scientists will surround the facility, acting as ‘living laboratories’: the Wildlife Garden, World Food Garden and Wellbeing Garden.
In addition, RHS Garden Wisley’s iconic Grade II-listed Laboratory will be restored and opened to the public in 2021 with interactive learning areas that will bring to life a century-long history of research.
RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, says: “For more than a century RHS scientists have been working away behind closed doors in our modest laboratory conducting ground-breaking research that impacts us all.
“During this time, we have researched the best plants to soak up air pollution, to cool buildings and to help pollinators, and these new facilities will enable us to enter a new era of discovery.
“Over the next five years, thanks to National Lottery players, we will reveal incredible horticultural treasures to the public so people can experience the wonders of gardening and see why we need everyone everywhere to garden and grow plants for the good of people, plants and the planet.
“A massive and heartfelt thank you to the Heritage Lottery Fund for this huge donation and to all those individuals and organisations* for your letters of support. We are incredibly grateful.”
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund said: “By supporting a state-of-the-art research facility, world-class designers and hundreds of years of gardening history, this National Lottery funding will help ensure RHS Garden Wisley is not only a beautiful place to visit, but also an internationally important centre for research into the role of horticulture in addressing some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.”
The funding will enable RHS Garden Wisley’s special heritage including its buildings, gardens, collections and its stories of horticultural science and experimentation– to be protected for the future and shared with visitors.
A major aspiration for the programme of works is to inspire communities across the country to be horticulturally active. As well as the new developments, HLF funding will be used for a variety of volunteering, apprenticeship, education and community outreach schemes to develop knowledge and skills.
“To complete the project, we still need to raise a further £2million and if you can support, please visit the RHS website”, adds Sue.