Chief comes home to Sheffield gardens

Sue Biggs, who grew up in Broomhill, has led the RHS for eight years. Picture: Paul Debois
Sue Biggs, who grew up in Broomhill, has led the RHS for eight years. Picture: Paul Debois
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When the director general of the Royal Horticultural Society gives a talk at the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield she will truly be on home turf.

Sue Biggs, who has led the organisation for eight years, grew up on Caxton Road in Broomhill, and strolls around the gardens were a regular fixture of her youth.

On Friday she is returning to speak at the site’s Dorothy Fox Education Centre, taking her audience behind the scenes at the RHS.

“I have such amazing memories from my childhood,” said Sue.

As a schoolgirl her ‘love of horticulture’ was born at Caxton Road when her mother gave her a pack of Virginia scented stock seeds, a small area outside in which to plant them and a baby trowel.

“When the seeds sprouted into beautiful little flowers it was like magic and I instantly became hooked on gardening and of course, most Sundays, as a family, we walked down the road to see the beautiful Botanical Gardens.”

Sue, who now lives in the south of England, worked in the commercial travel industry for 20 years before joining the RHS. She has overseen big changes in the 214-year-old society, launching a £160m investment programme as well as striving to widen the appeal of gardening.

The RHS Chatsworth show is back for its second year next month, and initial work is under way on a 156-acre garden – the charity’s fifth – in Salford.

“Gardening is for everybody, and you don’t need acres of land – all you need is a pot and some seeds,” she said. “We are fiercely committed to achieving our vision to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.

“Now more than ever, we need to recognise the power of plants to reduce the impact of some of the biggest challenges facing us today, from climate change to mental health. All we do as a charity, from our flower shows and gardens; to our science and advice; to our community and school programmes, is geared towards achieving this vision, and we simply will not stop until everyone is gardening.”

The event starts at 10.30am and has been organised by the Friends of the Botanical Gardens. The group has been working with the RHS for the past year to involve schoolchildren in horticulture.

Entry is £5, or free for friends group members. Visit www.rhs.org.uk and www.fobssheffield.co.uk for details.