Royal Society makes David Rae its horticultural first

A career dedicated to serving and improving the world of horticulture has been recognised through election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) for Dr David Rae, Director of Horticulture and Learning at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). It is believed he is the first horticulturist to be elected a Fellow. 

David Rae joined the Garden in 1978 as a lecturer in the School of Horticulture and served as its Conservation Coordinator before taking up the post of Director in 2000. In 1985 and 1995 he completed an MSc and PhD respectively, both by part-time research.

A highly-respected member of the international horticultural community, he has served as UK representative on the European Botanic Garden Consortium. He is currently Honorary President of PlantNetwork- the Plant Collections Network of Britain and Ireland and on the Board of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawai’i. In 2003 he launched Sibbaldia, the journal of botanic garden horticulture. Under his direction, the educational programme at RBGE is now the widest of any botanic garden in the world.

And, while many may regard RBGE as merely a visitor attraction, he has strived to have it recognised widely as a scientific institution in which every plant is of research potential and has been selected in accordance with an agreed policy, perhaps more akin to a museum or gallery rather than a garden. Under his guidance Edinburgh has pioneered new standards of curatorship making it a leader among the world’s botanic gardens.  

As a Fellow of the RSE he joins the ranks of a group of outstanding individuals spanning a wide variety of disciplines, including the arts, business, science and technology sectors. He has said he is “delighted and surprised” to receive the accolade.

Paying tribute, RBGE Regius Keeper Simon Milne commented: “I am thrilled that the Royal Society of Edinburgh has conveyed this honour on David.  David’s contribution to horticulture and plant conservation is exceptional. He has played a critical role in ensuring that Scotland is at the forefront of botanic garden management and through inspiring people to value, enjoy and protect the amazing diversity of plant life around the world.”

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)