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RHS awards the highest honours in horticulture

The highest honours in horticulture, the Victoria Medal of Honour and the Elizabeth Medal of Honour have been awarded to six worthy recipients by the Royal Horticultural Society.


At a special award ceremony held at Lindley Hall, London on Tuesday 26 March 2024, Chris Lane and Neil Lucas received the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH) and Rosie Atkins, Charles Dowding, Jan Pennings and Chipper Wichman received the RHS Elizabeth Medal of Honour (EMH).


The Victoria Medal of Honour is awarded to British horticulturalists and the Elizabeth Medal of Honour is awarded to non-horticulturalists who have made an outstanding contribution to horticulture and gardening. They are awarded as part of the RHS People Awards that recognise and celebrate the achievements and hard work of individuals in horticulture through the award of eight special honours.


Chris Lane and Neil Lucas received the award of the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour. Chris Lane is a renowned plantsman and nurseryman and is celebrated for his practical skills and knowledge of woody plants, sharing his experience through formal training, his books and holding five national plant collections.  Neil Lucas is an exceptional champion of ornamental grasses both as a designer and nurseryman. He is an author, exhibitor and judge and has developed Knoll Garden’s charitable foundation to increase our understanding of naturalistic planting and garden wildlife.


Rosie Atkins, Charles Dowding, Jan Pennings and Chipper Wichman received the RHS Elizabeth Medal of Honour. Rosie Atkins is an outstanding ambassador for horticulture, she launched the ground-breaking Gardens Illustrated magazine and became Director of Chelsea Physic Garden transforming their public engagement. She is a RHS committee member, RHS Vice-President and member of several trusts. For over forty years Charles Dowding has researched and developed his techniques of ‘no-dig’ pioneering the concept of improving soil quality organically whilst maintaining productivity and benefitting biodiversity. Charles continues to share his experience through lectures, courses, articles and several gardening books.


Jan Pennings has been unwavering in his pursuit of excellence in bringing his knowledge of daffodils and other bulbs to a worldwide audience. He is a tireless ambassador for the RHS and growers worldwide supporting plant breeders by taking up new cultivars of daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and crocuses to bring new and improved plants to the gardening world. Chipper Wichman dedicated his career in botany and gardens with the National Tropical Botanical Garden as the organisation’s president and chief executive officer. Under his leadership, the National Tropical Botanical Garden has become a recognised global leader in discovery, scientific research, conservation and education focused on rare and endangered plant species.


At any one time only 63 horticulturists hold the VMH and 70 non-horticulturists will hold the EMH to mark the length of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II’s respective reigns.


The RHS People Awards are held annually and are open to everyone to make a nomination. This year’s nominations will open in June 2024. All nominations are assessed by experienced horticulturists from across the industry. The strongest applications are then assessed by the RHS Horticulture Board and the RHS Council.


Keith Weed, RHS President, said: “This year’s recipients of the Victoria Medal of Honour and the Elizabeth Medal of Honour – the highest honours in horticulture, have made an immeasurable contribution to horticulture and have inspired designers, growers and gardeners of all levels of experience. Their passion and enthusiasm shines through in every avenue of horticultural activity they undertake, and our gardening knowledge has been greatly enriched by their achievements.”


For further information and full medal details please visit: RHS People Awards / RHS Gardening

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