Nigel Dunnett named RHS ambassador

Professor Nigel Dunnett is to spearhead the RHS campaign to halt the march of concrete in the nation's front gardens.

Nigel Dunnett in his RHS Greening Grey Britain garden at Hampton Court 2015. Image: HW
Nigel Dunnett in his RHS Greening Grey Britain garden at Hampton Court 2015. Image: HW

The RHS has announced that Dunnett will become an RHS Ambassador with a special focus on the charity's Greening Grey Britain campaign.

He joins Alan Titchmarsh, Mary Berry, Nick Knowles, Chris Beardshaw, Jekka McVicar, Adam Frost, George Hassall, Jamie Butterworth and newly appointed Baroness Floella Benjamin as an RHS Ambassador.

Dunnett came to national prominence when, together with collaborator James Hitchmough, he was appointed principal planting designer and horticultural consultant for the London Olympic Park. He is professor of planting design at the University of Sheffield and is known for his innovative ideas and techniques in ecological design and landscape planting.

Other achievements include four RHS Chelsea Flower show gardens, including a Gold Medal winning design. Dunnett also created the charity's flagship RHS 'Greening Grey Britain' garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2015.

Dunnett said: "The Greening Grey Britain initiative is so exciting because it brings to life the changes that individuals, communities, organisations, local and central government can play in transforming our surroundings for the benefit of all – for now and for future generations. I am honoured to be asked by the RHS to play a role in this campaign.

"Horticulture and gardens need to be at the forefront of addressing the huge challenges of climate-change and rapidly increasing urbanisation. We need a revolution in the way we see our cities, so that widespread greening is not only sustainable and beneficial, but beautiful and fulfilling too.

"We need to take a new approach to reviving gardens and green spaces so that they are seen as vital assets, and not a burden. We need to see gardens as essential elements in the future health of ourselves and our surroundings, but more than this, we need exciting and innovative horticulture to leap the garden fence and fill our urban places with vitality.

"That's what's so exciting about this role, we have the opportunity to look at gardens, gardening and horticulture from a new, fresh and exciting perspective."

RHS director general Sue Biggs said: "In a recent Ipsos MORI poll only 10 per cent of people said growing plants in their front gardens was an activity they would like to get involved in, while 73 per cent said greener streets would make them feel happier; 59 per cent said they would feel healthier and 58 per cent said they would feel calmer with planted areas along roads.

"It's clear that there is a real appetite to do more to green our communities and unlock the many benefits that plants bring, but how do we bridge the gap between desire and action?

"We believe that having someone with the skill, knowledge and imagination of Nigel flying the flag for this issue will help us understand how wide that gap is and the most effective way to bridge it.

"Nigel's appointment sends out the powerful message that this issue is too important to ignore and that the RHS will do all we can to confront it in engaging, innovative and sustainable ways."

This week the RHS held a Greening Grey Britain summit aimed at planners and developers to encourage them to keep front gardens from being paved over.

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