Your views on climate change and gardening

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(Royal Horticultural Society and the University of Reading)

The Survey is Now Closed – We have exceeded our target of 1000 responses

Thank you for your help!

You are invited to take part in a research study. Before you decide whether or not to take part, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully. Those that take part and wish to leave their contact details will be entered in a draw to win one of two pairs of tickets to Hampton Court or Tatton Park flower shows.

Dr Claudia Bernardini at the RHS Wisley

Dr Claudia Bernardini at the RHS Wisley

In 2002 the Royal Horticultural Society published a report ‘Gardening in a Global Greenhouse’, which discussed potential challenges that gardens and gardeners in the UK were likely to face based upon climate change predictions. Ten years later, new climate projections indicate that climate change might affect gardens and gardening in a way which is different from what previously predicted.

In order to support UK gardens, gardeners and the horticulture industry, the RHS and the UoR are assessing the consequences of a changing climate, based on the latest climate models, which will be subsequently published a new report.

As part of the research, a survey across the gardening and horticulture sector is being conducted in order to investigate which factors are relevant for all the gardening parties in order to adapt to climatic changes.

To contribute your views please Take the Survey.  You should read the Information for Participants (Right click to download) before starting the survey.

The survey closed on 7th June 2013.

If you wish to promote this survey please link direct to this blog page which contains essential background information, has a stable URL ( and will be updated with news as the project progresses.   Please help by promoting this survey.

The outcome of the study will inform the new report and new adaptation strategies in gardening practices in the UK.

There is a bewildering amount of information about climate change in the media and on internet blogs etc. and so it’s important to come back to what the objective, scientific evidence shows. You can find out more about climate change and the research we do at the University  by visiting the Walker Institute web pages.

Find our survey on the BGCI websiteGrass Free LawnsShoot Gardening Facebook Site and Old School Garden blog.

There is a lot of interest on the impact of climate change on UK Gardens.  The Plantlightly blog offers some interesting comments on climate change gardening from an organic growing perspective. Quite a discussion has developed on allotments4all following the posting of our survey. One of the longer running blogs on climate change and gardening is My Climate Change Garden.

Data from the new IPCC reports are now being incorporated into our work. We are expecting to launch our report in 2014.


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49 Responses to Your views on climate change and gardening

  1. peter martin says:

    As a student my dissertation required the help of anyone, how may I be of service

  2. I’ve just written the first in a series on climate change and the garden – see more at ‘Old School Garden’ .I’ll do the survey and post a link in my blog. In my future articles I’ll be looking at ways of beign prepared for unpreditable weatehr events, coping on a short term basis and also reviewing what help is at hand to gardeners through the RHS’s AGM and hardiness ratings, weather forecasting etc. Are you able to say anything about the new research yet?

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  4. I started filling in this form and got quite a way through but because I hit the wrong key the form moved away. tried to return to it but the information was gone. This is a long form… time is of the essence… so many surveys to complete these days. In a nutshell I believe increased wet and cold will further damage crop yields, reduced number of butterflies and bees, and poor seed setting. Our clay garden is a soggy slugfest for half of the year. But we won’t be beaten and always inventive :-). I’m sorry but I have had so many IT issues lately.

    • Hi Paul, If you can let me know your postcode (and if you submitted your postcode information) drop me an email at and I’ll add in the missing data for you. These online surveys are unforgiving in their technology! Thanks for having a go.

  5. I have been blogging about climate change gardening since 2008 at
    Feel passionately that we need to adapt and be prepared for an uncertain climatic future to preserve our gardens. Will be fascinating to see the final report with phenology updates.
    Have posting links on various gardening websites for you to maximise involvement with this worthwhile research project.
    It is rather long but hopefully people are getting through it and results arriving – despite technological disasters?

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    • The very cold UK weather this March suggests that we are already experiencing the effects of climate change . I feel sure many Gardeners are staring out of the window at their gardens wondering when it will be warm enough to germinate much needed seeds for allotments and gardens. The RHS survey is certainly being promoted at the perfect time. Lets hope the lack of outdoor gardening activity will mean many more gardeners have the time and inclination to use this time to answer the questions. Look forward to hearing how many completed it via Claudia.

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  9. Amy says:

    I am an area manager for three counties hydroponics and ill be passing the survey on to some of the gardening associations we have worked with over the last year.
    Kind regards
    Amy medcalf

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  13. marilyn bedworth says:

    I am a gardner but find it really hard to read all these comments referring to ‘ climate change’ . surely everyone knows the climate has always changed and gardners have just accepted it and dealt with changes for years and years.yes it is still changing……. this all started when the term ‘global warming’ was first mentioned and thankfully this myth has now generally been disproven as man made. No problem talking about ways to deal with difficult weather periods….just stop referring to it as something new.

    • Thank you for your comments. You are right that climate has always changed. The reason for both interest and concern in the current change is that it is linked to the most rapid change in atmospheric CO2 levels during human history and we don’t know, so can only predict, what impact this will have on our day to day lives. The balance of evidence is that the changes we are seeing in climate at present are linked to changes in atmospheric CO2 levels and that changes in CO2 levels are linked to burning of fossil fuels by humans.

      • Anne Griffiths says:

        I must correct you:- you state “the most rapid change in CO2 levels during human history”…… I don’t think so…… what evidence is there to prove what CO2 levels were pre Middle Ages? This is flawed theorising at our expense.

        • Thank you for your comments. Luckily there are many ways to work out what past CO2 levels have been, based on the gathering of evidence. One article published 4 years ago and available free of charge is that in the online version of Science There is a more readily understandable explanation of how old air samples are gathered from ice – see For recent scientific records you can look at the CO2 now website which has direct records back to 1959 – obviously there was no-one doing this research in the middle ages, that requires ice cores, tree rings and other data. A good source of current climate data and opinion is I’m a biologist and not a climate modeller so I have to use my scientific training to evaluate the weight of evidence and have no axe to grind on climate change and the direction it is taking. There is a close fit of evidence and theory in the sites I have referenced.

          Climate change, and, particularly, global warming are the subjects of hot debate. You might like to contrast the two blogs Watts Up With that? and Wotts Up With That? to get a clear idea of how fractious these debates can become. Science allows for many possibilities and little certainty, but it does allow for probability to be calculated based on evidence.

          I hope you find the evidence you are looking for in the references I have provided.

      • Margaret Martin says:

        Thank you A.C. The public need clarification; otherwise the problem (which it surely is) will be shoved under wraps! Maggie MM

        • For the UK, clarification on current majority opinion on climate change is readily available at The ‘Essentials’ heading gives information on how the UK will need to adapt if the climate models are correct predictors of climate change.
          For UK gardening plans – we plan to produce a report, part of which will depend on the outcome of our survey.

  14. Marilyn
    It might help if you read the NASA information page which explain Alastairs comments in more detail

  15. Anne Griffiths says:

    The climate is in a constant state of change. Far too many people are earning vast sums of tax payers’ money on so called “research into climate change”. It can’t be too much longer before the emperor’s new clothes are revealed for what they are.

    • You are right that the climate is in a constant state of change, and that is precisely why climate scientists are researching this area. Planning ahead is important for the future of human society.
      To cover your second point, I can’t find ready figures for how much this costs and would appreciate knowing your references for this. I found one site listing salary scales at Climate Research Unit in University of East Anglia where 5 or 6 of the 10 staff were earning less than the average wage for a trained professional. Given these will be postdoctoral researchers they will have spent at least 6 years in training before getting a paid job.

      • Marilyn Bedworth says:

        I live in mid Wales and we are fighting the desecration of our landscape with wind turbines, and the subsequent need for miles of pylons, so have been listening to all the arguments for and against. I cannot profess to understand all the arguments but without taking all my information from the media (BBC etc), it would appear that wind turbines are a totally inefficient way of producing power, and the cost of building them (including government subsidies) is being proven by many to be one of the biggest mistakes the world can make. Supposedly they are ‘green’ and lower the production of Co2, when in fact the materials used to manufacture these monstrosities actually produces Co2. The government are just hell bent on meeting their EU targets and are not listening to the experts. There are alternatives to wind energy that must be considered…yes we all want to keep the lights on, but at what cost?

        • Marilyn, wind turbines are outside the remit of our survey. Our aim is to discover what people perceive to be needed actions in their garden in response to statements about climate change. That might be that they believe climate change is not happening so no action is needed or might be some kind of forward planning on the assumption the climate models work well enough to be useful. There are other organisations dealing with green energy, impacts on food production and on wildlife who handle those debates.

          • Agree with Alastair – green politics/energy etc are well outside the remit of this survey. The RHS is doing a really great job in collating the personal experiences of UK gardeners . Please just ask every gardener you know to complete the survey as it will then be a true reflection of how UK gardeners feel about and are dealing with our changing climate. Spring 2013 is now 4 weeks late in many areas – perfect timing for gardeners to share their personal “climate experiences” via this important RHS survey.

  16. Hilary Drain says:

    I got to the very last part, clicked for more info about the report quoted, then couldn’t get back to complete it. Is this survey iPad friendly or des it do this on a main computer also? Perhaps more info should have been after the survey had been completed as it is a long one!

    • Thanks Hilary. I am an iPad user so will check this out. Once a survey is launched it can’t be altered or it would have the potential to skew the results so I will look at posting a warning on this blog to cover the issue. Thanks for your feedback and sorry you hit the problem.

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  18. Fay says:

    There definitely seems to be changes in the weather patterns and how cold or wet it is. Last year saw the heaviest rainfall for 50 years or so with gardeners everywhere having problems.

  19. James says:


    We would be happy to pass this survey onto some of our customers as I belive many would be interested in participating so I just wanted to check if this was still active as I couldn’t see any dates?

    • The Survey will remain open until the end of May so do please pass on the link!

      • shelfer says:

        sorry, I found the survey closed today, 27 May. Interesting discussion above…

        • Apologies – I’ve reset the date for 31st May. It should now be accessible again.

          • Hi Alastair – just spent last week promoting the survey in the Environment area at Chelsea Flower Show and received an excellent response from visitors. Everyone was talking about the weather and many gardeners were very keen to complete the survey. In order to give enough time to transfer their enthusiasm into actually doing the survey would it be possible to extend the deadline for another week until 7th June? Hoping this extra push is already producing a fresh response that will help you reach over the 1000 required. Thanks Deborah

          • Hi Deborah,

            I can extend the deadline until 7th June – we are very close to 1000 responses now. Can you confirm you have linked via the short url or full url of the blog – that is our only way of checking access stats.


  20. Hilary says:

    Hi, I am a master’s student looking for survey questions regarding horticulture for my research. Is there any way I could acquire a copy of the survey for a reference for my research?

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