Promoting Excellence in Horticulture

The Sibbaldia and PlantNetwork Conference

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 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 extend over two days and offer a series of presentations from members of the international botanic, heritage, and public garden community with tours of RBGE plant collections and a parallel session focussing on cultivation and curation in the 21st century.

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.


Tours are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and are subject to availability. A parallel session will run in the Lecture Theatre simultaneously to the tours and is available to all. This session wll include presentations and discussions exploring cultivation and curation in the 21st century. In the event of garden closure due to weather conditions, participants will be able to attend the parallel session.

Book the tour you would like to attend when you register.

1. The Tropics under Glass

2. Fern Propagation Workshop

3. Glasshouses: Behind The Scenes

4. Walking back in time: Rock and Woodland Garden

5. Behind the wall: Alpine Plants

6. Herbaceous and naturalistic plantings

7. Champion Trees and Outstanding Shrubs

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

9. Tour of the RBGE Herbarium

10. Explore learning and engagement at RBGE

See details of the tours

A parallel session will run: Curation and Cultivation in the 21st century


Attendee Early Bird* Early Bird* with dinner Full Full with dinner
PlantNetwork Member 80 125 120 165
PlantNetwork Student 45 90 75 120
Non-PlantNetwork Member 120 165 160 205
Non-PlantNetwork Student 60 105 90 135
Unwaged 60 105 90 135


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.

Dinner is a three course meal at the venue with one drink included.

*NOTE: Early Bird rates apply until 27 January 2020.




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: 12 October 2020

Planning your visit

How to get here

The conference venue is accessed through the main entrance at 20a Inverleith Row, EH3 5LR.

Transport options in Edinburgh:

  • Buses: the Garden's main reception is accessed via Inverleith Row (EH3 5LR) and is served by Lothian Buses 8, 23 and 27 from the City Centre and 21 from Ferry Road (north of the Garden).
  • Bicycle: Bicycle stands can be found at both public entrances to the Garden: the East Gate and the West Gate.
  • Car: There is metered on-street parking available near the Garden’s West Gate (John Hope Gateway). You can car-share at liftshare

Presentations will take place in the Lecture Theatre.

Registration and refreshments will be available in the Conference Room.

Printable directions


Information on accommodation in Edinburgh at VisitScotland and Marketing Edinburgh.


Grants for travel accommodation and tickets may be available from the following trusts and bursaries:

  • RHS: Five Royal Horticultural Society bursaries (with an individual limit of £500) are available for attendance at the Promoting Excellence in Horticulture Conference. These are ideally suited to early career horticulturists (including students) who would not usually be able to attend the conference due to funding restrictions. Applications for these bursaries must be submitted to the RHS Bursaries Department by 15th December 2019. Click on the General Application form. Applicants will be notified of the RHS Bursaries Committee decision by the middle of February 2020.
  • The Professional Gardeners' Trust: Awards are available for those who have committed to a career in horticulture and who have no access to support for training from employers. Apply here before end of February 2020.
  • A number of 'Assistance to Attend' bursaries have been generously provided by The Sibbald Trust. Further information and application forms are available here. Application forms must be received by 6 January 2020.
  • The BIG Gardening Bursary is offered to the youngest delegate to register for the Conference . One of the main aims of PEH2020 is to engage young horticulturists, including those studying and training in horticulture or planning a career in ornamental horticulture, and BIG Gardening is supporting this aim through this competition. The bursary is worth up to £200 and can be used to help pay for delegate registration, travel to the venue and/or accommodation. To apply, simply register for the conference, selecting the option to pay by invoice and tick the ’I am applying for a bursary’ box. Then complete this very simple form and send to by noon on Monday 2nd March 2020. The successful candidate will be notified by 5pm on Wednesday 4th March 2020.

If you are planning to apply for a grant, please register for the conference before 6th January 2020 to benefit from the early-bird conference rate: 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 here