The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are delighted to announce Dr Andy Salisbury as the new Head of Plant Health for the charity. This appointment coincides with Dr Salisbury celebrating 25-years at the RHS, in a career dedicated to advancing knowledge of garden biodiversity and plant health and understanding how to create gardens that are full of life.
The importance of understanding biosecurity and researching ways to protect plant health and the value of the garden habitat is increasingly being recognised, and a lot has changed since Dr Salisbury joined the RHS in 1998 as a Research Assistant. At that time a team of eight focused on diagnosis of plant problems and providing control advice. Today the team numbers 26, the largest biosecurity and plant health group focused on UK gardens, consisting of specialists in entomology, pathology, nematology, biodiversity and biosecurity. The focus being to promote a balanced approach to the way we care for our garden spaces and expand their focus on gardens as havens for biodiversity and wildlife.
Led by Dr Salisbury, the RHS Plant Health team will continue to spearhead vital initiatives and research efforts to deliver the Biodiversity Positive Target of the RHS Sustainability Strategy, maintaining vibrant and resilient RHS gardens and gardens nationwide. This encompasses evidence-led work to combat emerging threats to plant health, fostering sustainable practices, and empower all gardeners through teaching, training advice and engagement. The amazing diversity of life which gardens support is reflected in the team’s work. Projects range from investigating ways to mitigate garden problems such as root rots, rose black spot, powdery mildews, box tree moth and plant parasitic nematodes, to researching the true role of our garden slugs, and the best way to support pollinators, other wildlife and fungi in gardens. This is in addition to helping ensure that the RHS Gardens and Shows, and UK gardens as a whole, remain safe from new biosecurity threats and provide a haven for both people and wildlife.
The new appointment marks the RHS's unwavering commitment to staying at the forefront of safeguarding the nation's cherished cultivated green spaces. The RHS has seen a change in the requests from gardeners, as problematic species such as the box tree moth spread north and glasshouse thrips are able to establish outdoors in a warmer climate. But gardeners are also increasingly interested in the non-plant species that inhabit their gardens, such as fungi and pollinators and how they interact with other wildlife. The plant health team play a key role in encouraging good stewardship of nature in gardens and ensuring healthy and sustainable garden ecosystems, which are of paramount importance to tackling the climate and biodiversity crises.
Dr Andy Salisbury said: "I am excited to assume the role of Head of Plant Health at the RHS. In an era of ever-increasing plant health challenges, I am committed to working with our dedicated team of experts to provide gardeners with the knowledge, tools, and support to protect their plants and create thriving garden environments for biodiversity. I am especially proud as this new role comes as I celebrate 25 years at the RHS, and I am eager to continue our mission of championing plant health, supporting wildlife and the joys of gardening."
For more information on plant health please visit: www.rhs.org.uk/science/meet-the-team/plant-health-team