Royal Horticultural Society

Royal Horticultural Society
Royal Horticultural Society logo.png
Formation7 March 1804; 214 years ago (1804-03-07) (as Horticultural Society of London)
TypeRegistered charity
PurposePromote gardening and horticulture
HeadquartersLondon, SW1
Region served
United Kingdom
414,699 (2013)[1]
Sir Nicholas Bacon, 14th Baronet
2013/14 income: £71.94m[1]
RHS headquarters, Vincent Square

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), founded in 1804 as the Horticultural Society of London,[1][2] is the UK's leading gardening charity.[3][4][1]

The RHS promotes horticulture through flower shows including the Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, Tatton Park Flower Show and Cardiff Flower Show. It also supports training for professional and amateur gardeners. The current president is Sir Nicholas Bacon, 14th Baronet and the current director general is Sue Biggs CBE.



The creation of a British horticultural society was suggested by John Wedgwood (son of Josiah Wedgwood) in 1800. His aims were fairly modest: he wanted to hold regular meetings, allowing the society's members the opportunity to present papers on their horticultural activities and discoveries, to encourage discussion of them, and to publish the results. The society would also award prizes for gardening achievements.

Wedgwood discussed the idea with his friends, but it was four years before the first meeting, of seven men, took place, on 7 March 1804 at Hatchards bookshop in Piccadilly, London. Wedgwood was chairman; also present were William Townsend Aiton (successor to his father, William Aiton, as Superintendent of Kew Gardens), Sir Joseph Banks (President of the Royal Society), James Dickson (a nurseryman), William Forsyth (Superintendent of the gardens of St. James's Palace and Kensington Palace), Charles Francis Greville (a Lord of the Admiralty) and Richard Anthony Salisbury, who became the Secretary of the new society.[5]

Banks proposed his friend Thomas Andrew Knight for membership. The proposal was accepted, despite Knight's ongoing feud with Forsyth over a plaster for healing tree wounds which Forsyth was developing. Knight was president of the society from 1811–1838, and developed the society's aims and objectives to include a programme of practical research into fruit-breeding.