A KEYNOTE lecture by Grayshott Gardeners special guest, RHS director general Sue Biggs, attracted a capacity crowd at the village hall.

More than 140 keen gardeners welcomed Ms Biggs to their regular monthly meeting and presented her with a cheque to enable the RHS to continue its good works promoting horticulture.

The talk on the past, present and future of the RHS, started with its foundation as a society in London in 1804 and its rise through the ranks in 1861, when Prince Albert granted it a royal charter.

Today, the leading UK charity continues to be dedicated to “growing” excellence in horticulture and to enriching everyone’s lives through a love of plants and a greater understanding of their transformative effect in making the country a healthier place to live in.

Ms Biggs mde it very clear the RHS wants to be known as a charity for all people, and an educational organisation, keen to support a love of gardening and the natural world in schools and to spread the word that horticulture is a career to be proud of.

The educational work by the RHS starts with help for school projects, such as the annual ‘Grow For It’ event, led by its vice president TV gardener Alan Titchmrsh, at The Royal School, Haslemere. The society also supports university research schemes.

The RHS needs to raise £40million to support the delivery of its £160million investment to advance the future of horticulture, and Grayshott Gardeners dug deep to provide a donation towards that work.

Surrey’s treasure – Wisley Garden – is being boosted by a major investment of more than £70million to transform its offering as a flagship site, with improvements including a new welcome building, the opening up of parts of the laboratory building and a new centre for horticulture science and learning.

The group heard Highways England’s preferred option to widen the A3 as part of major works to the M25 Wisley roundabout junction will now not land grab 10,000sq m of woodland at the RHS garden. Unfortunately, Highways England’s current proposals remove all connection to Wisley Lane from the A3, which will result in an additional seven-mile journey for visitors coming from Grayshott.

The RHS urged members to object to the proposals in the public consultation launched by road authority, which has just closed in the last couple of weeks.

Committee member Helen Deighnan said “We were also given a bit of a sneak preview of what we might see at the shows this year, from swaying verbena at Hampton Court to a bit of a Royal Wedding theme at Chelsea in May.

“The evening ended with some quite pertinent questions for the director general. Sue’s talk demonstrated her hands-on approach to the very varied RHS activities.”