The Royal Horticultural Society

Begun as the Horticultural Society of London in 1804, the organization received its Royal Charter in 1861 and became The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Today, it is the leading gardening charity in the U.K. which helps protect endangered plants, gardens and green spaces throughout the country.

RHS Shows - Each year, the RHS sponsors several major flower shows. These include the world famous Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Tatton Park Flower Show and the Cardiff Flower Show in Wales.

History - John Wedgwood, son of Josiah Wedgwood of pottery fame, was the one who suggested the need for a British horticultural society. At the time (1800), it was common for wealthy men to have horticulture or botany as a hobby and the group was meant to regularly gather people with this interest together to discuss issues of the day.

Other prominent people involved in the establishment of the RHS included:

RHS Gardens - The Society maintains several gardens throughout the U.K. for the purpose of research and education for gardeners. These will include:

  • Wisley Garden - located near Wisley in Surrey, it is the oldest of the four major RHS gardens having been donated in 1904 by Sir Thomas Hanbury.

  • Rosemoor Garden - located in Devon was donated by Lady Anne Berry in 1988.

  • Hyde Hall - located in Essex and donated by Dick and Helen Robinson in 1993.

  • Harlow Carr - located in Harrogate in North Yorkshire, the garden was acquired as a result of the merger of the Northern Horticultural Society with the RHS in 2001. Previously, it has been the trial garden and display garden of the NHS since 1949.

  • Chiswick Garden - leased in 1821 so the Society could have an experimental garden. Joseph Paxton work at this garden in the 1820s.

  • South Kensington - RHS opened a garden here in 1861 but it was later closed in 1882.

Medals and Awards - In order to honor people who have made significant contributions to horticulture and gardening, the RHS has established several awards including:

  • Victoria Medal of Honour - This is the most prestigious medal which is given to people who are selected by the Society's governing council as outstanding leaders in horticulture.

  • Other medals include the Banksian, Knightian, Lindley and Veitch Memoria Medal.

  • Show medals include Gold, Silver-gilt, Silver and Bronze medals.

  • Award of Garden Merit - Given to outstanding new garden plants.

  • Associate of Honour and Honorary Fellowship awards.

RHS Libraries - The Lindley Library in London is the main repository for books, documents, illustrations, paintings and the RHS Herbarium.

RHS Publications - Starting in 1866, the RHS has issued a periodical journal which was re-titled The Garden in 1975 and is now distributed as a monthly publication. Other periodicals by the RHS include The Plantsman, The Orchid Review and Hanburyana.

Plant Registry - The International Registration Authority was created in 1955. Since that time, the RHS has been the designated registrar for new species and cultivars of nine categories of plants including conifers, clematis, daffodils, dahlias, delphiniums, dianthus, lilies, orchids and rhododendrons. New orchid cultivars are listed in The International Orchid Register which is published by the RHS.

Comments from Mr. PGC: Throughout history, many people have made lasting contributions to the world of plants. In these pages, we hope to pay tribute to some of them. Our concentration will be primarily on those who have introduced plants to the gardening world, those who have helped spread the word about gardening and those who have made significant contributions to landscaping and landscaping design around the world.

This list will be constantly growing as we add new names. If you have someone who you think should be on the list, please send us an Email.

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