Executive Board 2016 to 2017

Simon Toomer, NT

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.

Fay Steer, Chatsworth

Faye Steer (Vice Chair),
Glasshouse & Production Senior Supervisor at Chatsworth House


Christopher Weddell, EH

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.

Rob Brett, RHS

Rob Brett,
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.



Ros Burnley, Adrow

Ros Burnley,
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.

Juliet Day,
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.

David Knott, RBG Edinburgh

David Knott, DHE, SHM, C Hort FCIHort
Curator of Living collections at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Currently Curator of the RBGE Living Collection with overall responsibility for the maintenance and continuing development of the plant collection and gardens landscape across all four gardens of RBGE. Started his horticultural career at Branklyn Garden Perth and trained at Threave and RBGE. Has worked previously at Castle Kennedy Gardens, Brodick Castle Gardens rejoining RBGE in 1988 as Garden Supervisor at Logan Botanic Garden. Moved to Dawyck as Curator in 1992 and to Edinburgh in 2007. He represents RBGE on the Scottish Invasive Non Native Species Group and Scottish Plant Health Forums and is a member of the Plant Network Board, the RHS Bursaries Committee, RHS Woody Plant Committee, the UK Collections Working Group and the Forestry Commission’s Westonbirt and Bedgebury Advisory Committee.  Gardens Advisor to Drummond Castle. Currently President Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society.

Eddie Mole, Bristol Zoo

Edwin Mole,
Head of Horticulture at Bristol Zoo Gardens

Eddie Mole is Head of Horticulture at The Bristol Zoological Society. Responsibilities include plant conservation and education projects and the management of beautiful landscapes and a notable plant collection, including the Plant Heritage Calendula Collection (Bristol Community Plant Collection). The award winning Bristol Zoo Gardens are known for their high standards of horticulture and an innovative approach to its education and conservation displays. He has also plays a key role in the development of a new zoo “Wild Place”.

Eddie trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and has since worked in botanical and zoological horticulture at strategic levels. He is an original founding member of both the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria and European Association of Zoos and Aquaria zoo horticulture groups.

Don Murray, Mount Stewart Trust

Don Murray,
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, RBG Kew

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.

Tim Upson, RHS

Tim Upson,
Director of Horticulture at Royal Horticultural Society

Tim Upson is Director of Horticulture at the RHS. Based at RHS Garden Wisley his role includes responsibility for horticulture across all RHS gardens including the recently announced fifth
Garden, RHS Bridgewater in Salford. He is well travelled and has led tours to Morocco on many occasions.

Rupert Wilson, RHS

Rupert Wilson,
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.

The Articles of Association require 1/3 of Board members to retire at each AGM, these are the longest serving members; they may stand for re-election if they wish to do so. Nominations to join the Board are invited in advance of the AGM. Nominees should be  nominated by two PlantNetwork members. Contact office@plantnetwork.org for more information.