Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria Inc.

PRESIDENT'S ANNUAL REPORT 2017

 

The Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria (RHSV or “the Royal”) is the leading non-profit horticultural organisation in Victoria and has significant impact throughout Australia by providing services and support to its Affiliated groups. Without the support of the RHSV many of the Affiliated groups would find it difficult to continue, thus depriving local communities of longstanding contributors working for the betterment of the community.

 

The Royal also has a significant number of Individual and Family members who enjoy the benefits of RHSV Membership (including a copy of the quarterly RHSV Gardeners’ Gazette and the chance to participate in the Great Victorian Hanging Basket Competition).

 

In 2017 the number of Individual / Family members and Affiliated groups again increased. This highlights the continued relevance of the Society as its network of influence continues to grow and its community profile increases. The standing of the RHSV within the horticultural industry and the wider community is also greater than it has been for many years.

 

Unfortunately gardening continues to be underrated and undervalued by many, including those charged with servicing the community. As mentioned above, gardening groups provide significant social service in many communities, often supporting their community via local works and civic services generally undertaken without fanfare or recognition.

 

In an age with diminishing space to garden and an aging community the Royal has much to do and much to offer. This is the challenge for the future.

 

Membership                                                                                                          

RHSV membership continues to increase. This is largely due to very successful promotion at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.  A combination of enthusiastic and competent promotion and the support of MultiCrop attracted many new members.                                                                                                                           

 Individual and Family membership has increased reflecting the continuing value of the Royal to gardeners and the ongoing community interest in gardening. This year over 100 new members (including families) joined. Active promotion and a much improved magazine have helped significantly. The opportunity to participate in the Great Victorian Hanging Basket Competition also continues to attract new members.

 

Affiliate membership has also continued to increase. Unlike individual membership this area has a relatively finite number of potential members, thus increasing their number is a great achievement. Recently the community garden sector have been joining the Royal. Currently more than 70 community gardens are affiliated. The Gardeners’ Gazette, What’s On, Garden Rambles, Speaker Database, Gardener’s Day Out and efforts at better communication through items such as the Secretary’s News Sheet, post and email have brought us all closer together. The use of modern communications tools is essential in the effort to contact potential new members, both Individual / Family and Affiliate.

 

Membership of our affiliated groups is also very positive. The membership for most is either steady or increasing, some groups are even experiencing exponential growth. However, we must also recognise that for a minority of groups membership continues to dwindle, some to the point where dissolution of the group is mandated. Decreasing membership is often characterised by an aging membership body but for many groups this is not so. It must be noted that members gained by the Royal at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show are generally younger and many are family groups reflecting the broad spectrum of society. This gives one heart that despite the lack of promotion horticulture is seen as a positive contributor to community health and social harmony. (That of course does not apply to the largest, earliest tomato growing competition!)

 

RHSV Regions

 

The Regional Groups continue to support their members and the RHSV. The RHSV gratefully appreciates the management activities of the Regional Committees as without them the Regions would not operate. In many cases they continue to operate through the long service of individual members. The royal recognises the service of these people.

 

Development of Regions in areas where we were once strong is a vision but limited by resources. It is a focus for the future.

 

Interstate Members   

 

While primarily a Victorian body the RHSV has many interstate members.

 

The value of our membership is becoming increasingly recognised across Australia. The insurance scheme we facilitate is widely used by horticultural groups outside Victoria. Without it many could not exist.

 

Our web site and magazine contain information on interstate activities. We are continually seeking ways in which we can add value to non-Victorian members. We value and welcome their support.                                                                                                                                                   

 

Member Services

 

The value of services provided by the Royal to its Members has again been increased and improved.

 

The provision of insurance is a critical element in the provision of services to Affiliates. The Public Liability Insurance has a $20 million dollar limit and we have now added additional value and cover by adding Volunteer Workers Insurance.  This has happened through persistent good work by the Society in sourcing such services.

 

The Website has been updated and continues to be a critical element of our organisation. We are continually developing it to provide information and services to all. Many of our groups have their own web sites. For a group to have good contact with its potential membership base a website is required. Via the website the RHSV provides ongoing services. The “What’s On” segment now has the best and most up to date listing of shows and gardening events. It is being widely used as a promotional tool by our groups. The Garden Rambles is a large listing of gardens open for viewing which we know is valued resource used often by our members. The Speakers Database continues to provide Affiliate Members with possible options for speakers at their meetings. It is being continually developed.

 

The Royal is also continually assessing and developing new ways we can maximise the use of the website and email for membership benefit. A factor often beyond our control in this is the reluctance of many of our affiliates to join the electronic age and use the web. We need the ability to quickly and cheaply contact our members and affiliates. This opens up many more ways that we can benefit our supporters.

 

The medals, awards, show items etc. are continue to be popular. Several John Pascoe Fawner medals were awarded in 2017 for service to horticulture.  The SS McKay medals are also extremely popular.

 

The Royal trophy has been reconfigured and is now a sort after award for Affiliate shows and competitions.

 

The Gardeners’ Gazette continues to develop and is well received by our Members. Contributors now include significant gardening personalities and content is varied and reflects current trends. The Gazette now has the potential to act as a driving force to promote the RHSV, while providing Members with helpful and interesting articles relevant to their gardening experience.

 

The Gazette continues to provide income from Advertising. It is also increasingly being used by our Affiliated groups to place advertisements on their oncoming activities.

 

A future aim of the Royal is to facilitate more horticultural activities where the direct transfer and discussion of horticulture / gardening information is encouraged amongst members. This can take many forms but is a challenge for the Royal to reinvigorate this discussion.

 

Promotions                                                                                                                                                       

The RHSV is increasingly going out into the community for promotional activities.

 

The Royal has significant input into the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (MIFGS) in both the Exhibition Hall and Carlton Gardens. The Royal is there to promote amateur horticulture and primarily its affiliates.  We have a significant display outside with the Great Victorian Hanging Basket Competition. This year we had over 400 basket entries.  The response from the public, industry, sponsors and the public was very positive.  The event is continuing to grow in size and effect. A feature of the event is the contribution of volunteers from many Affiliate groups to man and operate the event.

 

Inside the Main Exhibition Hall the Royal and many Affiliates provided a large and extremely successful display.  The site was at the eastern end of the top floor. 

 

Together the inside and outside displays make the Royal one of the largest exhibitors at the event.

 

Gardener’s Day Out                                                                                                           

The Gardener’s Day Out is now a major horticultural event. The move to Deakin University has enabled it to expand beyond its previous confines. Benefits include better parking facilities, a larger presentation hall, a greater number of specialist plant sellers (including some Affiliated societies), and a great line up of speakers all of which contribute to new levels of success. 2017 was the biggest event to date with over 400 attendees. For the first time we were able to encourage non-members to attend and thus make it a more public event.

 

This year the morning session featured Cathy Powers on Preserving Australian Flora and Jane Teniswood on Tasmania’s “BLOOMING GARDENS”. The afternoon session featured the Gardenettes who showed a wide and dynamic view of the future of gardening.  The presentations provided a framework of interesting, informative and enjoyable experiences that set a great atmosphere for the event.  An increased number of vendors were invited to sell products at this year’s event.  The aim was to provide an opportunity for those attending to have access to plants and products that they were generally not able to access. Stalls were provided by specialist societies and specialist growers. This was a great success with a great response from those attending.  It offers another reason to attend the conference.

 

A light lunch was available for a small cost. Awards for the winners at the MIFGS Basket Competition and the superb raffle prizes culminating with a great goodie bag for all sealed the success of the event. 

 

The success of the day was also due in no small way to the contribution of volunteers. We thank these volunteers for their efforts and acknowledge that it is only with their help that the Royal can continue to run such events.

 

The Gardener’s Day Out is now a significant and self-generating fixture on the horticultural events calendar. 

 

Financial Management

 

The RHSV is a non-profit organisation. Consequently it is not a primary objective to make significant profit.

 

Industry financial support is very hard to obtain and other ways of working with industry are continually being explored. Despite this the RHSV is in a strong financial position. 

 

As the Royal progresses and develops increasing demands will come on it financially. The scope of the organisation is continually being widened and meeting these demands will require significant expenditure. It is obvious that as the Royal develops into new areas of the community and horticulture it will expand beyond its simple garden club structure.

 

The financial management of the society is now computer based (as is the design of the Gardeners’ Gazette and management of the website). All of these tasks require the relevant computer skills. As the society develops more professional support will be required. To progress beyond the structure of a simple garden club and fully realise the potential of the Royal will require more professional support ongoing. The Royal has been down this path several times. We must learn from previous mistakes and develop a structure and organisation that keeps us true to our aims and objectives without suffering the pitfalls of the past. This perhaps is the main challenge facing us moving forward.        

 

Industry Support

 

The RHSV has a very good and expanding relationship with many industry and non-government organisations. The Royal is seen as a positive organisation that is constructive to work with. This support has enabled us to participate at events such as the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show. The sponsorship that such organisations provide (whether financially or in-kind) is essential for the continued participation of the Royal in such events. Without Multi Crop, Gardman (Brunnings), Scotsburn Nurseries, Yates, Scotts (Debco), Neutrog, Amgrow, Seasol, Bosistos, NGIV, Garden World -Keysborough, Collectors Corner, Poyntons  the IMG organisation and the many others that support us we would find it difficult to continue with many of our activities. Support is not given lightly by industry and the RHSV appreciates this fact. To represent the amateur horticulturalist the RHSV must continue to maintain and develop its standing within the Horticultural community.

 

RHSV Management                                                                                                       

 

The current Executive Committee of the Royal is a very hard working group.  Without them the Royal would not exist. The Committee is the operational “heart” of the Royal and it is amazing how such a small committee can continue to do so much. Every member has their specific interests and activities. Together they create a tight and productive team.                                                                                                                                                    

 

The RHSV Executive Committee for the period 2016 -2017 was:                                                                 

  • PATRON - JANE EDMANSON OAM
  • PRESIDENT - DON RICKERBY
  • VICE PRESIDENT - PAT INSALL
  • TREASURER- DIANNE SHARMAN
  • SECRETARY- JENNIFER RICKERBY
  • COMMITTEE - ELSIE CARTER, ROD NOONAN, KEVIN MONEGHETTI                                                                                                                               

 

All members are to be especially thanked for their work and support. It is most valued and appreciated.  

 

RHSV AWARDS                                                                                              

The Royal has several significant awards for service to our groups, horticulture and the community in general.             

 

During the period July 2016 - June 2017, 22 John Pascoe Fawkner awards for service to horticulture were made for service to horticulture. These are listed on the RHSV website. The large number of awards shows that our Affiliated groups are appropriately recognising their long standing members.

 

THE FUTURE - 170 YEARS and MORE

 

In 2018 the RHSV will be 170 years old. This is a tremendous and very creditable achievement especially for a non-profit, voluntary organisation. We will celebrate this milestone in many ways throughout the year.

 

The future of the Royal looks very good.  Throughout its distinguished past the Royal has been able to change its focus and direction to meet the needs of the time. As never before the challenge is to remain relevant to the community and not only meet its demands but lead them too.

 

Consequently we need to review, rationalise, and develop what we do and how we do it. It has been and always will be the path we must follow.

 

Good Gardening
                                                                                                                                                   

Don Rickerby – President RHSV
October 2017