George Plumptre, National Garden Scheme Chief Executive awarded Elizabeth Medal of Honour

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) awards prestigious Elizabeth Medal of Honour to George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme.

George Plumptre

The Elizabeth Medal of Honour (EMH) enables the RHS Council to confer conspicuous honour on international horticulturists and UK non-horticulturists that have significantly impacted the advancement of the science, art or practice of horticulture for the benefit of all generations and the environment. In recognition of the duration of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, only 70 medals will be held at any one time. 

George Plumptre will receive his EMH from Keith Weed, President of the RHS, at a special presentation on the RHS Britain in Bloom 60th Anniversary Garden at Chelsea Flower Show on Monday 20th May. 

Plumptre has been Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme since 2010, during which time he is widely recognised for transforming the charity. In a 2020 tribute to mark his ten years in the role, the charity’s President Dame Mary Berry wrote; “It is a joy to work with George” and one of the charity’s Ambassadors, Rachel de Thame wrote, “In my humble opinion George is a national treasure… Above all he is passionate about the work of the National Garden Scheme and has a way of making you believe that anything is achievable.”

He has been closely involved in the world of gardens throughout his career, prior to the NGS Plumptre was a journalist and author. His first garden article was published in 1979 and his first book, Royal Gardens, in 1981. Since then, he has published a further ten garden books, the most recent of which, The English Country House Garden (2014) was voted the Garden Media Guild’s ‘Inspirational Book of the Year.’ He has written extensively as a journalist, working as Gardening Correspondent for The Times in the 1990s and writing annual features for Country Life 40 years.

Plumptre said; “I am honoured and humbled to be presented with such a prestigious honour, especially at the start of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show at which the National Garden Scheme has a show garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith and fully funded by Project Giving Back.”

Rupert Tyler, Chairman of the National Garden Scheme said; “I am absolutely delighted that our Chief Executive George Plumptre has been awarded the Elizabeth Medal of Honour – the RHS’s
highest honour for non-horticulturalists. It marks national and indeed international recognition for his outstanding and tireless work for the National Garden Scheme and its ultimate beneficiary charities. It salutes his inspired initiative in launching our Gardens and Health programme and gives formal recognition to his immense contribution to the world of horticultural literature and journalism. The entire community of the National Garden Scheme is very proud of George and congratulates him.”

Dr Crystal Oldman, Chief Executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute which founded the National Garden Scheme said; “I am absolutely delighted that George Plumptre has been awarded the Elizabeth Medal of Honour by the Royal Horticultural Society. It reflects his outstanding and visionary leadership of the National Garden Scheme over the last 14 years and his unrelenting commitment to the practice and joy of horticulture. This is exemplified in his support of the 3,500 garden owners who raise money for the National Garden Scheme every year, funding is then distributed as grants to community nursing charities, like the Queen’s Nursing Institute.In recent years George has also led the way in demonstrating the evidence of the positive impact of gardening and visiting gardens on people’s health and wellbeing. His trail blazing work on gathering the evidence is now embedded in the national narrative around the value of gardening and garden visiting as a part of the social prescribing movement to support physical, emotional, and mental health. I cannot think of a more deserving horticultural leader to receive this honour. Congratulations to George from all at the Queen’s Nursing Institute.”