Every now and again, something happens which really riles me. The usually placid me gets very hot under the collar! And today has seen one of those “nows”!
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), of which I’m a member, has, it would seem, joined up somehow with Interflora to promote a Valentine’s bouquet (at nearly £200 a time) which includes imported stems of flowers. Now I was under the, clearly mistaken, impression that the RHS was supposed to be promoting environmentally friendly gardening. They try to persuade us not to use peat (I’ve been peat free since Geoff Hamilton introduced me to coir and that’s some years ago), to consider the environment, to be responsible.
So when I saw a tweet from Interflora, linking to an advert for this bouquet, and realising that some of the stems in it had to be imported, I was surprised that the RHS logo was part of the advertisement. So I tweeted the RHS to ask about their involvement. Surprise, surprise! The RHS are being quiet.
Later in the day, I discovered that a friend, Sara Venn, had blogged about this so, rather than repeat everything, please read the article on her The Physic Blogger. The comments are also illuminating.
But, as I said, the RHS were too busy promoting British horticulture to respond to my tweet so I went a step further and, as a member, asked them to explain themselves:
“The website, at http://www.rhs.org.uk/About-Us/Who-we-are/Governance-and-decision-making/Charitable-purpose includes the strategy objective:
‘To transform our environmental performance, credentials and culture:
Issues of sustainability and resource consumption are foremost in the minds of UK gardeners and we consider it essential for the RHS to reflect this, represent these concerns and provide relevant advice on how gardening can meet the challenge and help tackle the causes of climate change.’
Will you please tell me how your involvement in the production of a Valentine’s bouquet by Interflora, including imported unseasonal flowers and ignoring the fact that UK-based growers currently have cut flowers available which are in-season here, do not involve the transportation overhead of importation and will have been grown in known conditions, is consistent with this objective. Or is it a case that the RHS is now more concerned with commercialising its operation to achieve income that with promoting British horticulture?
If the income from allowing the RHS logo to be associated with something which is neither “environmentally friendly” nor promotes UK growers (who create UK jobs!) is more important, then the RHS has become an organisation of which I no longer wish to be a member.
Please refrain from preaching to me about not using peat until you get your own house in order.
Incidentally, I am NOT a commercial plant grower and have been peat free for quite a few years. But, in my view at least, your authority has been weakened and you need to do a fair bit of soul searching.”
I suppose it’s a case of an organisation preaching one thing and practising another. Yes, the RHS needs income to support its activities.
BUT ALL THE INCOME IN THE WORLD IS OF NO VALUE IF IT COMPROMISES ITS PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE IT!
My RHS membership card is perilously close to a pair of scissors. I’ll wait to see how they respond.