This year?s Discovery Zone at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (19 ? 23 May 2015), will feature cutting-edge technology to examine the world around us, the ability horticulture has to make us happy, and a venture into outer space.
Newly named at last year?s show, this key educational area in the Great Pavilion will offer visitors the chance to learn more about the science behind a variety of everyday items, such as soil, tobacco and hops, and teach children the health benefits of growing and cooking produce from scratch.
Out of this world science
In 2015, RHS Campaign for School Gardening is embarking on a high-profile project with the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency to engage young people in science and horticulture by using space as a catalyst. This project, which will be a first for Europe, will turn half a million kids into science biologists as 2kg of rocket seeds are sent into space to stay on the International Space Station for several months. The seeds will then return to Earth in 2016 and be distributed to up to 10,000 schools to grow along with control seeds, measuring any differences in growth. The exhibit will explore the latest discoveries in growing fruit and veg in space.
Flowers to make you smile
Thrive is the leading charity in the UK that uses gardening to bring about positive changes in the lives of people? who are living with disabilities or ill health, or are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable.? This process is known as social and therapeutic horticulture (STH), and their exhibit, co-ordinated by David Domoney, intends to inspire visitors to the power plants have to make us feel happy. Using the latest technology, it will aim to identify the most popular plant that brings a smile to your face.
Inside the Hop Cycle ? do you know your Fuggle from your wort?
Wadworth: The Hop Cycle Introduction tells the historic story of the uses and properties of the hop, which has been used for centuries to provide one of the main flavourings for beer. However, are you aware that a multitude of different types or cultivars of this valued plant are grown to give a range of aromas and intensity? Sparsholt College will explain all in this exhibit, which features two garden areas: one planted with species that make or flavour drinks, and the other a pub garden to in which to relax and enjoy.
Cooking from compost to the kitchen
In this exhibit by Miracle-Gro, schoolchildren will grow a wide range of food plants and display them in an attractive kitchen garden at the show. This aims to highlight that growing food at school and at home will provide healthy, nutritious vegetables, fruit and edible flowers that will encourage everyone to eat ?5-a-day?and thereby reduce UK obesity.
A celebration of soil
To mark the International Year of Soil, the Science of Soil will celebrate the amazing nature of soil by demonstrating how plants and other organisms work together to create this vital medium, which is so often overlooked.? At the British Ecological Society?s exhibit, visitors will be able to interact with a range of soils to assess them, test their pH and examine how plants are adapted to particular soil types.
Tobacco ? friend of foe?
This exhibit by the Royal College of Pathologists explores the positive and negative ? ?friend? or ?foe? – effects of tobacco through the novel uses of tobacco plants (Nicotiana benthamiana) in preparing new treatments for ebola and HIV, which are important and topical viral infections (friend), as well as tobacco represented by the pathological effects of smoking in humans (foe). The theme aims to explore the valuable contribution that growing Nicotiana benthamiana in controlled greenhouse and laboratory conditions can make to human health when the plants are used to produce biological anti-virals.
Other highlights in the Discovery Zone include: Capel Manor College?s Stumpery themed gardens which aim to depict the wildlife, recycling and aesthetic benefits of stumpery features; and Religions, Education & Environment Programme (REEP), whose walkthrough exhibit encourages visitors to experience the garden through sensation display, demonstrating how horticulture can be a basis for many kinds of learning. The Gardens for Forests & Forests for Gardens exhibit by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) UK, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of forest conservation, will touch on the way in which forest elements (trees, forest plants, leaf mould, dead wood) can be incorporated into the garden, promoting sustainable forest management on a micro-scale.