Since the 2002 publication of the RHS report looking at the impact of climate change on gardening, Gardening in a Global Greenhouse, the global climate has undergone dramatic change, with 2016 proving to be the warmest year on record.
Today, confidence in global climate models has increased and we now know that extreme weather events are the most likely conditions to be experienced by the UK. The impact of these events, such as flash flooding and periods of drought, is likely to be compounded by increased housing pressure, meaning that gardens will become more critical in providing services formerly delivered by the natural environment – services such as flood alleviation, carbon sequestration and the provision of habitats for wildlife – that will be lost to development.
Fifteen years after Gardening in the Global Greenhouse, the RHS launched Gardening in a Changing Climate – an update of the original document – on 26 April 2017. The new report has been written in collaboration with researchers from the University of Sheffield and University of Reading. The report presents the results of an extensive survey of amateur gardeners and interviews with industry professionals. It highlights the importance of gardens in terms of their interaction with the natural environment and provides recommendations on how gardeners can adapt to climate change through plant choice and garden design. The report also outlines ways in which gardeners can manage their garden to enhance carbon sequestration and flood alleviation.