Conference programme

22-23 April 2020


Day 1 - 22 April 2020

13:00 Registration opens

13:30 Welcome Regius Keeper RBGE

Session 1: Conservation & Education - Chair: Kate Hughes

  • 13:45 - 14:15 The need for horticulturist expertise in plant conservation: challenges and opportunities - Paul Smith, Botanic Gardens Conservation International
  • 14:15 - 14:45 Creating a Biophilic Wales - increasing the health and well-being of people, biodiversity and the environment - Natasha de Vere, National Botanic Garden for Wales
  • 14:45 - 15:15 Can horticulturists help save the World? - Tim Upson, Royal Horticultural Society

Session 2: Cultivation

  • 16:00 - 16:30 RBGE Today - David Knott, RBGE
  • 16:30 - 17:45
    • Tours and workshops: Promoting horticultural excellence. See tours details below - RBGE staff
    • Parallel session: Curation and Cultivation in 21st century. Details below

18:00 Drinks Reception in the Palm House

19:00 Dinner at the John Hope Gateway restaurant

Day 2 - 23 April 2020

Session 1: Heritage and Education - Chair: David Rae

  • 09:30 - 09:55 Title coming soon - Ann Steele, National Trust for Scotland

  • 09:55 - 10:20 Title coming soon - John Watkins, English Heritage

  • 10:20 - 10:45 Title coming soon - Michael Walker

  • 10:45 - 11:00 Panel Discussion and Questions

  • 11:00 - 11:30 Break

Session 2: Curation and Conservation - Chair: Sadie Barber

  • 11:30 - 11:55 We know what you are and where you are from – managing ex situ collections of the South American threatened conifer Fitzroya cupressiodes - Martin Gardner, RBGE

  • 11:55 - 12:20 Promoting horticultural excellence at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh through curating living collections of high scientific value - Alan Elliott, RBGE

  • 12:20 - 12:45 Title coming soon

  • 12:45 - 13:15 Lightning Talks

  • 13:15 - 13:30 Panel discussion and round up - Kevin Reid, RBGE
  • 13:30 - 14:30 Lunch

Additional offers

Day 1

10:00 - 12:00 Optional walking tour of the city of Edinburgh's gardens: A vigorous 2 hour walk that involves steep steps. No additional charge.

Day 2

14:30 - 15:00 PlantNetwork AGM (in Lecture theatre)

15:00 - 16:30 Presentations and discussion: Growing from seed: the next frontier in biosecurity

16:30    Close


Tours and Workshops

1 - The Tropics under Glass


A walking tour, with a focus on collections from tropical regions. The tour will include the newly planted Victoria waterlilies in the Plants and People glasshouse. Maximum 15 participants.


Walking through ramped areas of the garden and glasshouses.

2 - Fern Propagation Workshop


Standing or seated workshop: demonstration of spore cleaning, sowing and patching off gametophytes. Maximum 15 participants.


Short walk to ramped classroom.

Sori on underside of fern frond

3 - Glasshouses: Behind The Scenes


A walking tour, stopping in various houses, including core research collections Begonia, Vireya rhododendrons, Aeschynanthus and other gesners, and gingers. Maximum 15 participants.


Walking through ramped areas of the garden and glasshouses.

Streptocarpus Research Collection

4 - Walking back in time: Rock and Woodland Gardens


A walking tour around the world famous Rock Garden including the history and buildings of the area and some of the original plants dating back to the early 1900s. Then the tour will lead into the Woodland Garden and explain the history of woodland gardening and the new plantings in this area. Maximum 20 participants.


Walking around garden areas and a range of paved surfaces. Some narrow and sloped paths.

Aerial view of the Rock Garden

5 - Behind the wall: Alpine Plants


This tour will show how and why RBGE displays the alpine collection both in the newly refurbished traditional alpine house as well as the contemporary tufa house. We will go ‘behind the scenes’ to the vast range of plants: from tiny cushions to dwarf trees and the large bulb collection. Maximum 15 participants.


Walking around paved and ramped areas.

6 - Herbaceous and naturalistic plantings


A walking tour including naturalistic plantings of wild collected material on the Chinese Hillside and the more formal plantings in the 165m long Herbaceous Border. The tour will also visit the new Rain Garden highlighting its importance in helping us to understand how plants are coping with a changing climate. Maximum 15 participants.


Walking around extensive areas of the garden, all ramped, some paths narrow and uneven


7 - Champion Trees and Outstanding Shrubs


This walking tour will highlight the trees worthy of note from the oldest to the rarest. It will tell the tale of how RBGE expanded across the site, along the way highlighting the old estate plantings, many champion trees and outstanding shrubs. The tour will include a discussion of challenges faced by our predecessors in comparison with managing a tree collection now, with a changing environment and both in terms of the climate and estate developments.

Maximum 15 participants.


Walking around extensive areas of the garden, all ramped, some paths narrow and uneven.

8 - Excellent Horticultural Books: 350 years of treasures from the RBGE Library & Archives


With a collection of books dating from the 15th century, the RBGE Library holds many treasures of botanical and horticultural literature. Participants will visit the Library’s main Reading Room in order to view some of the unique items from the collection including original artworks, manuscripts and early published works. Maximum 20 particpants.


Indoor tour fully accessible with limited seating available

9 - Tour of the RBGE Herbarium


Come and visit the RBGE herbarium, a leading botanical collection containing approximately three million specimens and representing half to two thirds of the world’s flora. The herbarium receives up to 30,000 new specimens each year, and some of the oldest, date from over 300 years ago. There will be an opportunity to see the renowned collections including our oldest cultivated specimen from 1764 and our modern Gold Standard specimens from RBGE's own gardens including recent cultivar standards such as Meconopsis 'Inverleith'. Maximum 15 participants.


Indoor tour fully accessible.

10 - Explore learning and engagement at RBGE


Find out how we teach, support and enthuse students and communities at the Edinburgh Garden. This tour looks at how we use practical and online teaching, and informal sessions across the public and background spaces to engage our audiences encouraging healthy plants and communities. It includes a chance to visit our horticulture classroom and the Botanic Cottage - our reborn Enlightenment teaching space. Maximum 15 participants.


Extensive walking tour with ramped access.

Parallel session: Curation and Cultivation in the 21st century


Have you ever wondered what curation is and its role in public gardens? This session, running parallel to the tours and workshops, offers a mix of talks and lively discussion around the value of curation, how it impacts on cultivation and management and how it can promote excellence in horticulture.

Subjects covered will include: Curation as a visitor experience & Plant records and labelling techniques


This seated session takes place in the Lecture Theatre.