The man responsible for driving forward the national and international profile of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) over the last decade has been conferred Her Majesty’s Botanist in Scotland. The announcement comes almost a year to the day since Regius Keeper Professor Stephen Blackmore unofficially opened the Garden’s prestigious John Hope Gateway visitor centre and two months after he welcomed Her Majesty the Queen to the Garden for the official opening.
Receiving the signed Royal Warrant from RBBE Board of Trustees chairman, Sir George Mathewson CBE, LLD, FRSE on Monday, September 13, Professor Blackmore spoke of the Honour attached to holding the appointment first given to James Sutherland in 1699.
Since moving from his research career at the Natural History Museum, London, in 1998, Stephen Blackmore has strengthened RBGE’s presence on the world stage of scientific and horticultural research and conservation work. As well as undertaking the responsibilities of directing an international organisation he has remained committed to personally involving himself in numerous projects ranging from Belize to China and Indonisia. Today, RBGE is recognised as one of the world’s top four botanic gardens, together with New York Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
At the same time he has championed RBGE’s reputation as one of Scotland’s cultural institutions, the home of award-winning art shows and popular theatre. “Ultimately, botanic gardens around the world must engage with the public in the widest sense” said Professor Blackmore, acknowledging his delight at receiving the title. “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”.
Sir George Mathewson added “In his first decade here Steve has not only supported a new generation of international research initiatives, he has been an ambassador abroad for Scotland and remained committed to more clearly defining the importance of the Garden’s role at home. The success of the John Hope Gateway has by no means stemmed his almost evangelical approach to progressing the work of RBGE”.
Richard Lochhead MSP, on behalf of First Minister Alex Salmond, reported that the Scottish Government "recognises Prof Blackmore's contribution to the science of botany and his important work at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh".