Sparsholt ex-student joins the team to help show visitors go ‘Behind the Genes’

Sparsholt College and Thompson & Morgan have announced their partnership for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019. Sparsholt’s Horticulture students are working collaboratively with Thompson & Morgan to design and create The Behind the Genes garden. Joining the team is Lance Russell Thompson & Morgan horticulturalist who first visited RHS Chelsea as a student member of the Sparsholt College Gold Medal-winning team in 2014. Lance, already growing an impressive career in horticulture, has re-joined the team and presented a joint video on the progress of the garden.

The Behind the Genes garden provides a visually inspiring insight into the processes of plant breeding, selection and development helping to showcase the commitment and expertise involved in plant breeding from the past and into the future. Prompting show visitors to think about the future of plant breeding and the possibilities it holds.

Lance and the college team will be joined to explain the exciting science behind the Behind the Genes garden by plant hunter Peter van Rijssen. Peter is an inspirational horticultural figure who manages the trials for a worldwide portfolio of new plants as well as being on the board of directors of the Royal Dutch Horticultural Society (KVBC) and an avid promoter of plants and new genetics, trialling new varieties at locations all around the world.

Sparsholt College’s Horticulture expert Chris Bird is leading the student team, he said: “We’re incredibly excited about our Behind the Genes garden and welcoming back Sparsholt alumni, Lance, is a bonus. It’s always a delight to see an ex-student make their way in the industry. We look upon our courses as giving young people a springboard to launch careers as horticulturalists of the future. In a world becoming increasingly ecologically challenged it’s important to us that we incorporate the practical application of science into our courses to equip our alumni for anything their future lives bring them.”

Lance Russell said: “I was part of Sparsholt’s Gold Medal winning garden team for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014, a fantastic experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. Learning about the planning, design, preparation, growing and planting for such a prestigious event is an honour and a great addition to your CV!

“After my studies I worked in garden centres and wholesale production management, before joining Thompson & Morgan in 2018 as Trainee Manager. I am also on the committee for IPPS Europe and was lucky enough to travel to the USA in 2016 as the Horticultural Exchange Student, touring various nurseries and botanical gardens.

“Sparsholt was my pathway into the horticultural industry and a successful career, for which I am very grateful – the lecturers and course content provided me with a broad range of skills, knowledge and invaluable experience which has opened doors and helped me out immensely.”

To find out more about The Behind the Genes garden and our previous RHS Chelsea here