The Victoria Medal of Honour (VMH), the highest accolade to be awarded by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), has been presented to Professor Stephen Blackmore, in tribute to his ongoing achievements as Regius Keeper at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). The RHS citation pays tribute to Professor Blackmore’s role in strengthening the presence of RBGE both nationally and internationally. In particular, it notes the development of the Lijiang field station, run in partnership with Kunming Institute of Botany, on the slopes of the Yulong Xue Shan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain), in Yunnan Province, south-west China.
After accepting the medal from the Countess of Wessex during a ceremony at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show on July 2, Professor Blackmore, who is the Queen’s Botanist in Scotland, said he was honoured to accept the tribute on behalf of RBGE: “Botanic gardens, with their knowledge and expertise of plants, have it in their power to perform many different roles at home and abroad”, he commented. “Ultimately, botanic gardens around the world must engage with the public in the widest sense to inspire and encourage everyone to care for the environment. Thanks to the quality of the staff I am privileged to lead, we are able to deliver not only scientific and horticultural expertise but also an extraordinary educational offer, art exhibitions and a dazzling array of family events, encouraging an understanding of why plants are integral to the way we all live our lives”.
In recognition of the span of Queen Victoria’s reign, only 63 individuals may hold the VMH at any one time. This year’s other recipients are: David Clark, Suffolk; Professor John Parker, Norfolk; Viscountess of Merton, Alice Boyd, from Cornwall.
This is the second honour for Professor Blackmore in recent weeks, having accepted the Linnean Medal for Botany 2012, from the Linnean Society, in London, in May.