Simon Toomer (Chair),
National Specialist for Plant Conservation at National Trust
Simon originally trained in environmental biology and forestry, Simon Toomer has worked as a forester, land management advisor and arboriculturalist in both private and local authority sectors. In his current role is the National Trust’s national consultant for plant conservation including plant health and biosecurity, collections management and plant records. Simon was formerly Curator and Director at Westonbirt, overseeing the management and development of one of the finest tree collections in the World. He is a professional member of the Arboricultural Association, a member of the Plant Conservation Committee of Plant Heritage and a trustee of the charity Tree Aid.
Faye Steer (Vice Chair),
Glasshouse & Production Senior Supervisor at Chatsworth House
Faye Tuffrey is Glasshouse and Production Senior Supervisor at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. Faye trained in Amenity Horticulture at Pershore College in Worcestershire, and then undertook a year’s traineeship at the University of Cambridge Botanic Garden.
In 2010 she won the Institute of Horticulture’s Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition. Faye was Deputy Head Gardener at Madingley Hall, part of the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, before moving to Chatsworth in 2012. Her role at Chatsworth involves overseeing the glasshouses, kitchen garden and plant collections.
Christopher Weddell (Treasurer),
Senior Gardens Adviser at English Heritage
Christopher is a Senior Gardens Advisor at English Heritage, which encompasses the setting and monitoring of standards of garden presentation and curation at English Heritage’s garden sites, advising and supporting garden teams and property staff, and leading on support for plant recording, garden volunteers and garden health and safety. Christopher has also spent time working for the National Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and the Royal Horticultural Society amongst others.
Curator of Royal Horticultural Society Garden Hyde Hall
Rob joined the RHS as Curator of Hyde Hall in April 2015 and oversees 28 horticultral staff and the management of the 365 acres. Prior to this Rob was at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge where he was responsible for the setup, delivery and management of an up to date and comprehensive plant growth facility.
Rob trained at the Welsh College of Horticulture and has a Kew Diploma in Horticulture and an MSc in Environment and Development Education from South Bank University. He started his career in landscaping before moving to Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where after completing the Kew diploma was recruited to assist in the management of the orchid collections. He then became Supervisor of Glasshouses at Cambridge University Botanic Garden, where he also taught adult education programmes and then moved to The Eden Project, as horticultural Curator for temperate collections.
Director at Adrow Ltd
Ros is a Director of her own company, Adrow Ltd. She works as a consultant for clients on grant funding applications, business planning and strategy. She is a qualified project manager and coordinates partnership projects specialising in skills and teaches horticulture. Ros has a degree in biological sciences and an M.Sc in horticulture. She started her career in the nursery stock industry before undertaking two horticultural internships in the US at the Morris Arboretum and the Holden Arboretum. Ros was Plant Conservation Officer at Plant Heritage where she oversaw the National Plant Collection® scheme and became passionate about conservation of cultivated plants and collections management. She went on to establish GreenSpace North West, a Forum for parks managers in the region. Ros became a keen advocate for green space and the benefits it can provide to local communities. Ros became interested in skills and training and took a post with Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the land based sector. She worked with land based industries at a strategic level on skills, including career development, apprenticeships, qualifications and skills registers. She has managed grant funded skills projects and believes in the power of skills and training to help both individuals and businesses.
Project Manager (understanding plant diversity) at Cambridge Botanic Garden
Juliet took a circuitous route into gardens and horticulture! A degree in Russian and Italian from Trinity Hall, Cambridge was followed by development and fundraising for The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Gardening was already a growing interest but a year spent exploring the Americas persuaded her that on return to real life, gardens and horticulture needed to occupy a Monday-Friday role rather than be squeezed into the weekend. Juliet joined the Cambridge University Botanic Garden in 2000 to undertake the Certificate in Horticulture and Plantsmanship while also establishing and running the Development and Publicity office. This work has involved growing the annual visitor numbers from 80,000 to today’s 250,000+, developing the Garden’s communications in print and digital, and multi-channel fundraising across a broad spectrum of projects from re-landscaping to capital developments.
Having successfully raised the funding for an ambitious project to revitalise the Garden’s unique Systematic Beds for teaching, research and enjoyment, Juliet has been seconded to Understanding Plant Diversity as project manager for three years until 2019.
Head of Landscapes and Horticulture at The Mount Stuart Trust
Don joined Mount Stuart from the Eden Project, Cornwall where he was the Head of Horticulture and played a key part in the transformation that turned Eden into the amazing gardens they are today. Don said “I worked at Mount Stuart as a gardener when I was a lad. The opportunity to return to beautiful Bute is as rare an opportunity as the one I was given over thirteen years ago to join Eden” Before joining the award winning Eden Project Don was Director of Horticulture at Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses. He has broad horticultural experience maintaining and developing both modern and historic gardens.
Sara Redstone, BSc (Hons) Plant Science; MSc Plant Biotechnology, Kew Diploma(Hons), Plant Health & Quarantine Officer, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Sara’s role at 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 Kew 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, biosecurity, plant health, quarantine, the CBD and CITES.
Chris Bisson, Policy Development Manager The Eden Project
Chris develops and manages projects focussed on horticulture and other biosciences. Having worked in areas of plant conservation, botany and most aspects of horticulture Chris has a broad knowledge of UK and global plant science. Recently Chris has worked on Eden’s scientific engagement programme and collaborative projects with Cornwall College whilst trying to promote science as accessible for all and fun and engaging. After spending nine years working in plant records and horticulture-based conservation programmes like the Lizard Juniper Conservation project Chris took up the position of Policy Development manager in 2016 where he now is responsible for much of the scientific programme on the Wellcome Trust funded Invisible Worlds project as well as several other plant science collaborations.
Stephen Herrington, Head Gardener, Nymans, National Trust.
Stephen has been Head Gardener at National Trust Nymans, one of the Trust’s premier gardens, since 2014. . Previously he was Curator of Glasgow Botanic Gardens where he carried out extensive improvements to the tree collection with wild origin material and implemented upgrading of the plant records system. From 2005 to 2011 he worked at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and trained at Tresco Abbey Gardens, RHS Garden Wisley. Stephen holds a BSc (Hons) in Horticulture and Plantsmanship awarded by Glasgow University.
Natalie Chivers, Curator, Treborth Botanic Garden, University of Bangor
Natalie gained a MEnvi in Environmental Science from Bangor University before training with the Royal Horticultural Society and Gothenburg Botanic Garden. She then studied for an MSc Plant Conservation at Bangor before starting as Curator in August 2015.
As Curator of the Garden, Natalie has the responsibility for managing the living collections, which comprise over 2000 species. Her key areas of responsibility include planning the future direction of the collections, overseeing the sourcing and documentation of new and diverse species, driving the landscaping and design of the garden and promoting the use of the collections for research and teaching. Natalie was co-opted to the Board in June 2017.
Principal Data Manager, Horticultural Information & Advice at Royal Horticultural Society
Rupert joined the RHS in 2001 after working for several years in the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Reading where he managed the herbarium database. He leads a team of six staff whose diverse roles include the upkeep of the plant records at Wisley, compilation of the RHS Plant Finder, providing training and first line support of the RHS Horticultural Database and ensuring consistency in the data held and publications from across Science.
Pam Smith (non Exec Administrator),
Gardens Adviser at National Trust
Pam was Vice Chair of PlantNetwork before taking up the part time role of PlantNetwork Administrator in 2013. She also works part time for the National Trust Midlands Region as a Gardens and Parks Adviser.
Pam has worked in horticulture for over 30 years and trained via a YTS programme in Bangor and an OND at Askham Bryan College. In 2000 Pam gained a PG Diploma with the Architecture Association in Conservation and Management of Historic Landscapes. Her career started with 11 years in north east public parks followed by 8 years as Director of the University of Birmingham Botanic Garden. She later worked as a freelance horticultural and heritage consultant before joining the National Trust in 2011.
Matthew Jebb (Honorary President), Director of National Botanic Gardens of Ireland Glasnevin
Matthew is an Irish botanist and taxonomist specialising in the ant plant genera Squamellaria, Myrmecodia, Hydnophytum, Myrmephytum and Anthorrhiza, as well as the carnivorous plant genus Nepenthes.
Matthew was Chair of PlantNetwork from 2004 – 2015.