Home Gardening news Titchmarsh fights for gardening at Westminster

Titchmarsh fights for gardening at Westminster

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Alan Titchmarsh. Picture; RHS/Hannah McKay
Alan Titchmarsh. Picture; RHS/Hannah McKay

Address to MPs after report reveals value of industry to the UK

One of the UK’s best-loved gardeners has spoken out about the future of horticulture and has called on MPs to recognise and invest in the industry.

Alan Titchmarsh addressed the All Party Parliamentary Group on Horticulture and Gardening Reception in Westminster.

It follows a report by Oxford Economics for the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG)* revealing the value of the UK’s ornamental horticulture and landscape industries.

In light of its economic importance, the industry contends that it isn’t being taken seriously by Government.

New homes being built without gardens are on the rise and those that have them are getting smaller – nearly a quarter of new builds don’t have any land at all.

The Palace of Westminster, taken from St Thomas Hospital Gardens
The Palace of Westminster, taken from St Thomas Hospital Gardens

Fall in private gardens

It’s estimated that by 2020, one million more homes won’t have a private garden compared to 1995.

The UK’s ornamental horticultural industry contributed £24.2 billion to the economy in 2017, supporting 568,700 jobs – 1.6 per cent of total UK employment.

Alan said: “We must urgently stop the demise of the UK’s gardens and landscapes for the sake of the economy and, equally importantly, for the sake of our health and well-being and that of the environment and wildlife.

“This report shows the huge value of ornamental horticulture to the UK’s economy. Last year households spent around £7.5 billion on garden goods, with manufacturers selling around £1.3 billion worth of garden goods and products. That’s £1 in every £100 of household spending.

“If horticulture continues to be undervalued and overlooked and we carry on building houses without gardens it will have a devastating impact not only on our national economy but also on the environment and our living conditions as a whole.

Sue Biggs. Picture; RHS/Paul Debois
Sue Biggs. Picture; RHS/Paul Debois

‘An industry we must support’

“The UK’s commercial growers grew ornamental plants with a production value of £1.35 billion in the UK last year – with Brexit this is an industry we must support and grow, the opportunities are immense.”

While councils face an average 40 per cent cut to parks and greenspace budgets, the report revealed that £2.9 billion worth of tourism was attributable to parks and gardens in 2017.

Alan added: “In the same year, UK’s vegetation provided air quality improvement with an economic value of £1.1 billion and averted 1,900 deaths from pollution.

“The OHRG, chaired by Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, has long been championing the immense value and benefits of ornamental horticulture to safeguard the nation’s future – it’s time to sit up, take note and act to support this invaluable and immense industry for a better future for all.”

*The OHRG is a body of industry leaders and innovators, including retailers, gardening charities and industry bodies. The group is calling on Government to:

  1. Create opportunities for the industry to scale up UK production in light of Brexit.
  2. Nurture innovation funding in horticultural science for environmental resilience and health benefits.
  3. Support the development of a skills roadmap to meet current and future workforce needs.
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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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