Natasha de Vere

Natasha is Head of Science at the National Botanic Garden of Wales and a Senior Lecturer at Aberystwyth University. She has been responsible for the Garden’s Science Programme for the last 12 years, where her research group focuses on using genomic tools to conserve plants and pollinators. DNA metabarcoding is used to understand the foraging preferences of both wild pollinators and honeybees. Genomic approaches are also applied to help monitor and conserve threatened plants and habitats. Public engagement with science is a core part of Natasha’s work, especially using art-science to explore scientific ideas. Natasha is passionate about the social role of Botanic Gardens and leads the ‘Growing the Future’ and ‘Biophilic Wales’ projects, which are dedicated to increasing the health and well-being of people, biodiversity and the environment throughout Wales. Along with her Botanic Garden and University appointments, she is a member of the Council for the Linnean Society and a Trustee for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.


Adrian Fox

Adrian Fox Portrait

Adrian is the lead plant virologist at Fera Science, York, the National Reference Laboratory for Plant Health in England and Wales. He has over 20 years’ experience in both virus diagnostics and plant virus epidemiology, including work on both insect and seed transmitted viruses. He has participated as an external expert on working groups for European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), including co-authorship of a scientific opinion/risk assessment on Pospiviroids and risk assessment on Chrysanthemum stunt viroid. Adrian has authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed papers, New Disease Reports and book chapters. He is a member of the EPPO panel on diagnostics for viruses and phytoplasma, the International Committee on Plant Virus Epidemiologym and is the chair of the Virology Section of the European Association of Potato Research.participated as an external expert on working groups for European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), including co-authorship of a scientific opinion/risk assessment on Pospiviroids and risk assessment on Chrysanthemum stunt viroid. Adrian has authored or co-authored over 25 peer-reviewed papers, New Disease Reports and book chapters.

He is also a member of the International Committee on Plant Virus Epidemiology and is the chair of the European Association of Potato Research Virology Section.

Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner has worked at RBGE for over 25 years on many aspects of conifer conservation and currently co-chairs the IUCN Conifer Specialist Group. He coordinates the International Conifer Conservation Programme which has played a major role in the completion of the Red List and first global reassessment for conifers. Part of Martin's work has been to establish one of the world's most comprehensive networks for the ex situ conservation of threatened conifers.This work has taken him to over 30 countries in order to study and collect research material of threatened conifers and their associated species. Particular geographical areas of interest include New Caledonia and Latin America. For this conservation work, in particular on Chilean plants, in 2013 he received an MBE and in 2014 the Veitch Memorial Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Martin has written several papers published in Sibbaldia in No. 1, No. 12, & No. 17.

Detailed information, distribution maps and images for all of the 211 threatened conifers can be found on the Threatened Conifers website.

Clare Hart

Clare Hart is the Manager Horticulture, Melbourne Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV), Australia.

Clare is a Horticulturist who has been working in the industry for 24 years, in numerous roles and areas of horticulture and arboriculture including: Nursery Management, Garden Design, Botanic Gardens, Local Government and Horticulture media (radio). Her experience extends to strategic and operational management of public open space, including large parks, botanic gardens, conservation areas and streetscapes. Clare has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Advanced Certificate in Horticulture and a Graduate Certificate in Arboriculture, and is an executive committee member of Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand (BGANZ) Victoria. 

David Knott

David Knott is Curator of the Living Collections at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

David wrote the Garden Profile for Dawyck Botanic Garden in Sibbaldia No. 5


Marian McEwan

Marian McEwan trained as a seed analyst while employed at Scottish Agricultural Industries (SAI) then joined SASA in 1991 as a seed analyst in the Official Seed testing Station (OSTS).
She obtained a BSc (hons) in Life Sciences and moved on to become a seed technologist in the OSTS conducting research and development in seed health and in 2009 became the Seed Pathologist for the OSTS. She is responsible for delivering a seed health testing service, managing a small team of trained analysts, training in seed health and carrying out and research and development.

Sara Redstone

Sara Redstone

Sara’s role at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew includes leading a small team responsible for managing the Quarantine Unit and science glasshouses, dealing with incoming and outgoing plant material. The Unit is one of a number of single points of entry used at the Garden to ensure incoming material complies with relevant legislation, including plant health, CITES and the CBD. She provides technical support and assistance to staff, helping them maintain and improve the health of the Living Collections at Kew and Wakehurst. Sara works with curatorial staff to develop appropriate policy and procedures and to manage biosecurity risks associated with Kew’s activities. A key aspect of her role involves developing and delivering teaching and training to staff, students and external groups about invasive alien species and biosecurity, the CBD and CITES. Sara’s horticultural qualifications include BSc (Hons) Plant Science; MSc Plant Biotechnology, Kew Diploma(Hons).

Pamela Smith

Pam Smith is Garden and Parks Consultant for the National Trust. She advises and supports the management of gardens and historic landscapes in the Midlands’ region, including restoration, commissioning new design and the development and delivery of management plans. Key to this is the understanding of significance and succession of the varied plant collection under National Trust management.

Pam is currently researching botanist and plant collector George Maw, a long time tenant at National Trust Shropshire property Benthall Hall with a view to informing future management at Benthall, and articles and symposia for the 140th anniversary of the publication of Maw’s Crocus Monograph.

Paul Smith

Dr Paul Smith is the Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). BGCI is the largest plant conservation network in the world, comprising 600 member institutions in 100 countries. Paul joined BGCI as Secretary General in March 2015. Prior to this, Paul was Head of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank (MSB). During his nine years at the helm there, seeds from >25,000 plant species were conserved in the MSB and, in 2009, the MSB achieved its first significant milestone, securing seed from 10% of the world’s plant species, prioritising rare, threatened and useful plants. Paul trained as a plant ecologist, and is a specialist in the plants and vegetation of southern Africa. He is the author of two field guides to the flora of south-central Africa and the Vegetation Atlas of Madagascar. He is a Trustee of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, and is the recipient of the New England Wildflower Society’s Medal for Services to International Plant Conservation and the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration.

Paul authored the Guest Essay in Sibbaldia No. 14.

Ann Steele

Ann Steele is Head of Heritage Gardening at the National Trust for Scotland. The NTS is Scotland’s largest garden owner with 38 important gardens and designed landscapes in its care and a horticultural interest in many more. As a charity the purpose of the NTS is to protect these special places on behalf of its members, the people of Scotland and others beyond, encouraging access and enjoyment.

Ann has spent most of her career with the National Trust for Scotland, beginning as a volunteer at Inverewe Garden and later returning to work her way up to her current lead role as part of the Trust’s Conservation and Policy team. On the way she has worked with most of the Trust’s gardens at different times, though with a general focus in the west; this led to her becoming the Trust’s plant health and biosecurity lead, following outbreaks of Phytophthora there, and also to becoming a member of the UK Government’s Plant Health Advisory Forum.

On coming into post in 2016 Ann was invited to review the Trust’s gardens and identify priorities for action and investment. This has resulted in a number of significant initiatives for the organisation, the most public one being its pilot Garden Apprenticeship Scheme.

Peter Symes

Peter Symes is the Curator Horticulture, Melbourne Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Since 1989, he has developed diverse expertise in strategic planning, technical support and management of large landscapes, including analysis and design of plant environments, integrated water management, plant biosecurity, and soil health. Safeguarding and development of over 20 living collections through challenging climate change is also essential to his role. Peter is a lead author of the RBGV’s pioneering Landscape Succession Strategy to guide the future of the historic landscape through climate change. He continues this work as a member of the Secretariat for the Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens. Further information is available at:

Tim Upson

Tim Upson is Director of Horticulture at the RHS with responsibilities for Standards of Horticulture across all Gardens and development of our fifth garden, RHS Bridgewater. His remit also includes the trials programme, RHS Bursaries, Plant Committees and networking with other organisations and the trade. He has published research on lavenders and rosemary and has an interest in cultivated plant conservation, currently chairing the Plant Conservation Committee of Plant Heritage and a member of the International Advisory Council for Botanic Garden Conservation International. He was previously Curator and Deputy Director and Cambridge University Botanic Garden and a committee member of PlantNetwork.

​Tim has written several papers published in Sibbaldia in No. 5, & No. 8

Michael Walker

Michael Walker Photo

Michael Walker is known for his role of 15 yrs until 2019 in overseeing the much-acclaimed regeneration of Trentham Gardens in a Staffordshire for property developers St. Modwen Properties PLC.

Michael recently set up on his own as National Gardens Specialist and is supporting historic estates and place-making ventures across the UK and Europe.

As a volunteer he is actively involved in a wide range of organisations:

  • Member of the National Trust Specialist Advisory Network (Design Advice Forum, and Historic Environment Advisory Groups).
  • Trustee of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust; Honorary Vice President of the Professional Gardeners Guild 15 years plus; International Awards Jury Member for the European Gardens Heritage Network; Committee member of the Royal Horticultural Society and Professional Gardners' Guild and English Heritage schemes.

Michael feels very aware that the current environmental challenges place responsibility on us all to find new approaches to soften our impact on the land and better connect people with the places close to where they live.


John Watkins

John Watkins DHE, M.Hort(RHS),CHort, FCIHort.

John leads the Gardens and Landscape Team which sits within the Curatorial Department of the English Heritage Trust. He provides specialist advice and technical guidance on the development, maintenance and management of historic gardens and designed landscapes in the care of the English Heritage Trust. He is a professional horticulturist and was awarded the RHS Associate of Honour in 2016. He was Senior Lecturer at Hadlow College in Kent and has worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh and Kew, the National Trust for Scotland and the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley and Hyde Hall.

Working with partners across the horticultural sector, John established and secured HLF funding to establish and run the Historic and Botanic Gardens Training Programme, now running for over 12 years, and this has placed over 270 trainees in historic and botanic gardens across the UK to receive practical horticultural training. He both writes and lectures on plants and historic gardens and their management, including the Glasshouse Garden published by Conran Octopus and jointly edited and contributed to the English Heritage Manual: The Management & Maintenance of Historic Parks, Gardens & Landscapes.