Many people believe that gardening is all dirt, sweat and shears. Whilst there is no substitute for all the hard work which goes into creating a beautiful garden and the skill which comes with becoming a good gardener, a surprising amount of what happens in your outdoor space is down to science. From creating new varieties of plants to coming up with ways to fight pests, it’s the appliance of these scientific discoveries which keep our gardens luscious and green.
Reviving Old Favourites
Old varieties of plants and flower scan quickly die out once the plants in people’s gardens reach the end of their shelf life. If nurseries are no longer able to propagate them for sale, then the variety can very quickly become extinct. In order to avoid this, then specimens are kept under the protection of the National Collections scheme, which is run by a charity and seed banks which are at Wakehurst Place and RHS Wisley in Sussex.
Simply The Pest
New pests often find themselves moving from the continent to our gardens, causing issues for many gardeners. The lily beetle first arrived in southern Britain in 1930 and has only recently begun making its way northwards, but other invading species include the rosemary beetle, hemerocallis midge and the berberis sawfly.
When “new” diseases, such as box blight, become widespread, this means that gardeners also expect quick solutions. The RHS are aware of new issues and problems and also continue to monitor existing ones from their research facility.
Naming New Plants
A common annoyance for many, gardeners hate when Latin plant names change over the years. However, botanical research often unveils new information and new and improved ways of deciding the correct names of plants, often involving laboratory techniques such as taking molecular fingerprints. There is a team of botanists who maintain the RHS plant database and make edits to the RHS Plant Finder which ensures that the published names are accurate.
Thinking Of Tomorrow’s World
With pressure now on us all to be more green and sustainable, horticulture is also looking for new ways to help. RHS scientists are always working on new projects, some as diverse as looking for new methods of composting, using garden waste for living walls and roofs, new trends such as urban gardening, the effects that waterlogging has on our gardens and more effective ways of using water. With many of us completely changing the way we use our gardens and outdoor spaces, keeping up to date with any and all changes is important for maintaining our gardens all year round. Next time you’re sat on your conservatory furniture, looking out over your garden, just think about all the behind-the-scenes work which has gone into creating your garden!