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Tree planting at RHS Garden Wisley marks RHS

Director General’s 10-year anniversary at the charity
by RHS
September 2, 2020

To celebrate ten years at the helm of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) a tree planting ceremony was held at RHS Garden Wisley last week for Sue Biggs CBE, the longest serving Director General of the UK’s leading gardening charity.

Sue was joined by a small group of staff and students at the charity’s flagship garden in Surrey as Curator Matthew Pottage gave a speech about some of her achievements over the last decade. Sue then planted a stone pine – her favourite tree - in the Apiary Meadow in close sight of Wisley’s ‘champion’ stone pine which measures 21 metres high, the tallest of its type in the country.

Since taking on the role of Director General in August 2010, the RHS has undergone a transformation, making the charity and gardening more accessible than ever before, something which she set out to achieve when she joined. Her contribution to horticulture was recognised at the highest level in 2017 when she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year Honours.

Under Sue’s direction the RHS continues to make significant strides towards fulfilling its Vision ‘to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place’, and now has more than half a million members, the highest in its history. She is also leading on the charity’s historic £160 million investment programme into horticulture to help create a more sustainable and healthier society now and for generations to come which includes embarking on the largest gardening project in Europe, RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, the first new RHS Garden in 19 years.

Sue is now navigating the charity through one of the most challenging periods in its history after the cancellation of all RHS shows, including the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show and its gardens temporarily closing due to COVID-19. During this time the RHS has continued to inspire and support the nation to garden for their health and wellbeing, and helped grow the number of UK gardeners with more than 17 million people visiting the RHS website for gardening advice during lockdown, including more young people than ever before.

In just eight weeks from the lockdown being announced, the charity made history by hosting the first ever Virtual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, bringing the joys of gardening to the homes of millions of people around the world and supporting the horticultural industry at an uncertain and difficult time.

The RHS is looking ahead to 2021 with exciting plans to inspire and engage even more people to garden and grow plants with an incredible month of celebrating the best of British horticulture, starting with the opening of the new RHS Garden Bridgewater planned for May next year, followed by the return of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show later the same month and culminating in the opening of the Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning at RHS Garden Wisley, the home of gardening science.

Matthew Pottage, Curator for RHS Garden Wisley, said; “Sue has transformed the RHS from what it was when I joined to what it is now and we are all incredibly grateful for what she has done and continues to do for the RHS and horticulture.”

Sue Biggs said, “It is such an honour and a privilege to lead this amazing charity, and I am so proud of what our talented and hardworking teams have been able to achieve for horticulture over these ten years, which have whizzed by so fast. I’m equally excited about the future because never have we valued the importance of gardening so much, for so many different reasons. Now we need to maintain and grow the status of horticulture, so watch this space.”

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