The Royal Horticultural Society has launched a Planet-friendly Gardening Campaign that aims to mobilise 30 million gardeners in an ambitious sustainability strategy.
In World War II, The Ministry of Agriculture mobilised gardeners to “Dig for Victory” and feed the country. In today’s battle against the climate and biodiversity crisis, the power of 30 million gardeners can be similarly harnessed.
As Britain’s leading gardening charity, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) recognises its unique position to empower the general public to make a meaningful contribution towards climate change targets. September saw the launch in Parliament of the national Planet-friendly Gardening Campaign, part of the RHS’s ambitious new Sustainability Strategy.
Small Actions: Big Results
When it comes down to what people choose to plant, buy, and consume, it’s about small actions leading to big results. RHS scientific research shows that if every one of the UK’s 30 million gardeners planted a medium sized tree and nurtured it to maturity, they would store the carbon equivalent of driving 11 million times around the planet. And if each person made an average of 190 kg of compost a year, this would save the carbon equivalent to heating 506,000 average sized houses for a year.
The RHS believes that knowledge is key to bringing about change.
RHS Director of Science and Collections, Professor Alistair Griffiths, says: “Collectively, the actions of each and every one of our nation’s 30 million gardeners can create positive change and help us adapt to and mitigate against the climate crisis and help to reverse the biodiversity crisis.
We are not underestimating the mountain of things we all have to do to change our behaviours individually, but we are calling on government, industry, influencers, communities and individuals to recognise that gardening and growing plants more sustainably can play a major role – and it is something we can all do, either on a windowsill, in our own gardens or with a community gardening group.”
Only 19% of UK gardeners say they have specifically adopted sustainable gardening principles such as conserving water, making their own compost and reducing fossil fuel usage. But the transition to peat-free gardening shows people are willing to change their habits. Almost a quarter of gardeners (36%) who currently don’t make compost say they would consider doing so if the council provided free or subsidized compost bins and a manual.
As part of its Planet-friendly Gardening Campaign, the RHS has come up with a list of achievable actions for gardeners:
- Plant a tree in your community, school, workplace or garden to draw carbon out of the air: Grown to maturity, a small tree stores up to 376kg of carbon; a medium tree 511kg; and a large tree 3,350kg.
- Water the way nature intended: Pledge to switch from ‘mains to rains’ on the RHS mains2rains initiative.
- Go peat free: Protecting precious peatland habitats which are the largest land carbon store and havens for biodiversity will also help reduce flood risks.
- Make your own compost: Every 1kg of home-made compost saves 0.1kg fossil carbon, which could save more than 19kg carbon, per gardener, every year.
- Pull up a paving slab (1m²) and grow perennial plants to maturity: Herbaceous perennials (lawn grasses and non-woody plants) draw 3.21kg carbon/m² out of the air; shrubs 19.54kg and trees 40.38kg.
- Plants for pollinators: Help slow and reverse declines in bees, butterflies, mot§hs, hoverflies and other pollinators by growing a wide variety of plants including a mixture of native, near-native and exotic plants to support pollinator biodiversity.
- Grow your own bunch of flowers: Growing or buying UK-grown cut flowers can save up to 7.9kg Carbon per bunch compared with buying imported bunches.
- Electrify your garden: Even though 82% of garden tools sold in the UK are powered by electricity, nearly 40% of gardeners still use ones powered by fossil fuels. An average gardener uses 9L of petrol a year equating to 7,6kg fossil carbon.
- Help map UK garden plant biodiversity: Add your garden plants to RHS My Garden online to help the RHS conserve this important biodiversity for future generations.
- Eat more home-grown, UK, local and seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Take a trip to Van Hage at PE1 this autumn, and purchase all you need to ensure your garden is planet-friendly! With a selection of beautiful blooms, fruits and vegetables, outdoor gadgets and educational goodies, there is plenty on offer to help encourage green fingers and to have a positive environmental impact.
The garden centre is open 9am to 5.30pm from Monday to Saturday and 9.30am to 4pm on Sundays.