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.


Alan Elliott

Alan Elliott has broad expertise in botanic garden horticulture and plant systematics. He has revised the taxonomy of Clematis and Celastraceae for the Flora of Nepal and Styracaceae and Weigela in cultivation for the International Dendrological Society’s Trees and Shrubs Online. As a horticultural taxonomist he has led on a number of projects, working closely with scientists and horticulturalists, to ensure collections of high scientific value were accurately identified, named and recorded at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Alan is currently the RBGE’s Biodiversity Conservation Network Manager, coordinating input to two global conservation programmes, the World Flora Online and the Global Conservation Consortium for Rhododendron.

Alan is an author on papers in Sibbaldia: No. 7, No. 11, & No. 13.

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.

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


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.

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 is known for his role of 15 yrs until 2019 in overseeing the much acclaimed regeneration of Trentham Gardens in a Staffordshire.

As a highly experienced professional gardener, international jury member of the European Garden Heritage Network and volunteer specialist to the National Trust, Michael will share his thoughts on how good horticultural management can be best shaped to support our historic and botanical gardens. 

He will consider what this might look like, some key considerations, and how we might better respond to current environmental challenges and considerations.


John Watkins


John Watkins is Head of Gardens and Landscape at English Heritage.

Gunter Fischer

Gunter A. Fischer is the Head of The Flora Conservation Department at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG), Hong Kong, China. He is responsible for the Botanic Garden, encompassing Arboriculture, Horticulture, Plant Conservation and Plant Sciences Departments. Born and raised in Salzburg, Austria, he graduated from the University of Vienna with a PhD in molecular ecology in 2007 and has held research positions at the Universities of Salzburg and Vienna. His research and conservation interests have taken him into many areas of China, Indochina, Southeast Asia, Africa, Madagascar and South America. He joined KFBG in 2010 and has established a number of in situ & ex situ conservation programmes  in the fields of horticulture and arboriculture and at genetic and ecosystem levels. He uses environmental statistics and modeling (GIS) and climate change monitoring to contribute to urban greening and awareness-raising for conservation and sustainability in Hong Kong, South China and the greater Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot region. Since 2014, he has been an Honorary Professor at The University of Hong Kong. His research and conservation findings have been published in scientific reports and papers.