Promoting Excellence in Horticulture

Sibbaldia and PlantNetwork Virtual Conference 2020: 28 - 30 October

Conference information

Who is it for?

Of interest to anyone with a keen interest in horticulture, from the dedicated home gardener to the established professional.

The themes are particularly suited to anyone who works in botanic and public gardens: horticulturists, plant scientists, garden managers, plant collection holders, curators, conservationists.

Volunteers, Trustees, Members and Friends of gardens may also be interested.

Students of horticulture and associated topics are encouraged to come along and concession rates and bursaries are available.

The organisers will endeavour to make this online event accessible to all. If you have any concerns about accessibility please contact us by using the form available under 'Contact Us' below.


The Sibbaldia and PlantNetwork Conference 2020 will provide an opportunity to share horticultural experiences and knowledge and to celebrate horticultural achievements that demonstrate and support excellence in botanic and other gardens.

Cultivation: At the core of the Conference is the need to communicate and disseminate information on the cultivation of plants. In particular, what are the key skills for successful cultivation and how can these be shared and developed across plant groups and gardens?

Collections: At the heart of a good garden is the management of its collections and the associated data. The dynamic nature of a garden means that this can be a daily challenge. The conference will look at these challenges and highlight best practice.

Conservation: Horticultural skills and knowledge hold the key to safeguarding species and habitats, especially as ex situ collections and restoration ecology become more important. During this meeting, how gardens identify and coordinate these conservation activities, and how horticulturists can make a difference will be discussed.

Plant health: 2020 is the International Year of Plant Health: a recognition of the immense challenges caused by the increasing frequency and scale of devastating pathogens. Changes in climate and the environment are contributing to these outbreaks. They require quick reactions and new approaches to the management of our landscapes.

Heritage: The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh will be 350 years old in 2020. Since its establishment, it has contributed to scientific and horticultural knowledge worldwide but has evolved to provide amenity, education, art and, most recently, food, for its 800,000 annual visitors. Gardens are an important part of our past and future. Experts in the field will share their thoughts on the future roles of heritage gardens.

Education: The future of our gardens depends on having a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. This requires excellent training opportunities for horticulturists, garden and landscape managers. Delegates will be able to meet likeminded people and hear about educational opportunities within the sector. The Conference will also explore how gardens engage the public in their work and how this can really make a difference.



The conference will be delivered online over three days with presentations from members of the international botanic, heritage, and public garden community. On 29 October there will be a profile of RBGE followed by a choice of virtual tours led by RBGE staff. There will be a choice of parallel sessions: One looking at plant health and the other at cultivation and curation in the 21st century. An opening reception and closing session - bring your own refreshments! - will provide an opportunity for engagement and discussion through the virtual medium.

Please note that the programme is subject to change from the previously advertised programme due to the season and speaker availability. We will be regularly updating information as resources allow.

See programme schedule.


There will be a choice of three pre-recorded tours of the Living Collections at RBGE. These will be led by horticultural staff and be available to view at 15.45 on 29 October. Delegates will be able to choose to attend one of the selection available. 

The tours available are likely to include:

1. Living collections cultivated under Glass

2. Herbaceous and naturalistic plantings

3. Trees and shrubs at RBGE

See details of the tours





PlantNetwork Member £40
PlantNetwork Student £15
Non-PlantNetwork Member £65
Non-PlantNetwork Student £25
Unwaged £25


Find out about PlantNetwork membership.

To qualify for a student rate, you must be undertaking an apprenticeship, be a garden-based student, in full-time education or undertaking a recognised qualification that requires college attendance or a similar level of engagement (online or distance learning) for the equivalent of at least one day per week.


Please register and book your tour using the Online booking form

No PayPal account required, all major credit cards accepted.
Payment with Purchase Order also possible.

Deadline for registration: 26 October 2020


A number of 'Assistance to Attend' bursaries have been generously provided by The Sibbald Trust. Further details can be found on our downloadable application form (word doc). Application forms must be received by 16 October 2020.

If you are planning to apply for a grant, please register for the conference, click the box for ‘bursary submission’ and ‘pay by invoice’ to secure a provisional place pending the bursary decision.

Cancellation Policy
  • Event cancelled by us: in the unlikely event that the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and PlantNetwork have to cancel or postpone this event, we will refund any pre-paid registration fees. Neither RBGE or PlantNetwork shall be liable for reimbursing the cost of travel or accommodation arrangements made by individual delegates. We strongly recommend that you purchase your own travel insurance.
  • Booking cancelled by you: you are entitled to a full refund up to 8 weeks before the conference, then to a 50% refund up to 15 days before the conference. No refund is available for cancellations made after midnight on 11 October. You are able to offer a colleague your place if preferred.

Contact Us

If you have any queries, please get in touch via our Contact Conference Form.