(1) Welcome and apologies
Matthew Jebb, Chairman of the Board, welcomed all those present.
Apologies had been received from Hugh Angus, Alasdair Hood and Harvey Stephens.
(2) Minutes of the Twelth Annual General Meeting
Minutes of the meeting held on 1 April 2008 at Clare College Cambridge were approved.
(3) Report for the year to 31 March 2009, by Matthew Jebb, Chairman of the Board
Meetings: A full programme of meetings had been held, including conferences, forum groups and other training days. All had been well attended, and talks and reports had been posted on the website. The meetings in 2008/09 were as follows:
Cultivation and Display of Native Species, Spring Conference and AGM,
Clare College and Cambridge University Botanic Garden, 1–3 April 2008
Climate Control Under Glass: growing sense,
Glasshouse Forum, University of Oxford Botanic Garden, 11 June 2008.
Displaying Herbaceous Plants, Technical Training Day,
Savill Garden, Crown Estate, Windsor, 20 August 2008.
Climate Change and Planting for the Future, Autumn Conference,
Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, 10–12 September 2008
PlantNetwork Target 8 Project: making progress in Wales,
National Botanic Garden of Wales, 8 October 2008
Techniques for Successful Tree Establishment,
Tree Forum Royal Horticultural Society Garden Wisley, 23 October 2008
Plant Record Systems – keep it simple, Plant Records Group,
Sheffield Botanical Gardens, 18 November 2008
PlantNetwork Target 8 Project: making progress in Scotland,
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 11 March 2009
The website http://plantnetwork.org had continued to provide network news, reports from PlantNetwork meetings, as well as information on forthcoming meetings. The Chairman would welcome members’ suggestions for information to include on the site. Gardens were asked to download their entries from the online version of the PlantNetwork Directory of Botanical Collections in Britain and Ireland and send updated versions to Matthew Jebb. After the plant records meeting in Sheffield (Nov 2008), there was a request to set up an Internet bulletin board for the Plant Records Group. To date no postings had been made to the group, either there is no genuine need for such a service, or possibly everyone is too busy to engage in this kind of forum. Judy Cheney had continued to compile and edit an excellent newsletter for members., and two issues had been published: in June and December 2008.
Membership in the year had totalled 199 members: 97 institutional members and 102 individual or personal members, including 15 Trainees on placements in gardens as part of the Historic and Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme.
Company. The Charity Commission has recently highlighted new legislation in regard to charities, and the duties of trustees in running them. There is both a duty of care in ensuring the charity fulfils its aims and purposes, as well as a duty of prudence in running the accounts. This legislation also means that we must demonstrate, explicitly, the public benefits provided by PlantNetwork. Our objectives are to advance the education of the public in horticulture and related subjects with particular reference to the study and appreciation of plant collections and their management and conservation, as well as to promote, for the public benefit, the general preservation and conservation of plant collections of importance, beauty or historical or scientific interest. These aims of PlantNetwork help staff to manage, maintain and develop their plant collections, gardens and arboreta for the benefit of the public, by sharing information, expertise and experience. Without the existence of the network this would be much more difficult to do.
Membership is open to all, and is not unfairly restricted for those on low incomes. The rates for personal membership have been kept as low as possible (£10 to £33), whilst institutions shoulder the bulk of the subscription costs. We endeavour to keep costs of meeting as low as possible, and charges for attending Forum groups or other one-day meetings continue to be kept to a bare minimum of £20. The website provides free access to information from the meetings, including PowerPoint presentations from conferences and many of the forum meetings, with no restricted, or members only, sections.
We endeavour to keep the environmental impact of our meetings and activities to a minimum by encouraging attendees at all our events, including Board meetings, to use public transport or to share car journeys. Most correspondence is done by email.
The trustees ensure the charity is run prudently, and we have developed several policies in recent years, which are reviewed annually. These include an institutional risk policy, a financial reserves policy and an internet and email policy. Our reserves policy ensures we have sufficient funds set aside, to ensure that PlantNetwork can function for at least 15 months should funds become limiting.
(4) Accounts for the year to 31 March 2009
The accounts for the year to 31 March 2009 had not yet been audited.
Subscriptions provide approximately 40% of our annual income, and this year this has increased by about £2000, following an increase in rates on 1 April 2008 (the first increase since 2004); rates for students and for individuals at member institutions had not been increased. More than £1400 had been received in donations, and more than £1700 for advertisements and emailing. A positive balance was expected for the year, mainly as a result of the increase in subscription rates and two well-attended conferences. Forum workshops and training days continued to be subsidised, so that the charges could be held at £20 per person.
Basic expenditure continues to be just in excess of £30 000, with subscriptions of £ 18 000 and donations of £3 400 providing the main offset to this. Reviewing the past five years, reveals that there is a basic shortfall of ca. £10 000 a year, with some years better than others. Surplus from well-attended conferences usually fills this gap, but there is a continual need for fundraising, and the board had recently applied to 2 trust funds in this regard. Over the past 13 years, PlantNetwork has gradually built up reserves of ca. £ 50 000, providing sufficient funds to enable the organization to run for at least 15 months.
Critchleys, of Greyfriars Court, Paradise Square, Oxford, were appointed as auditor for a further year.
(5) Election of officers to the Board of Trustees
The Articles of Association of the Company require one-third of Board members to retire at each AGM; they may stand for re-election. Hugh Angus, Christopher Bailes, Wolfgang Bopp, Pamela Smith and Mark Sparrow retired from the Board. Steve Ansdell, Alistair Griffiths, Edwin Mole and Christopher Weddell were elected and Hugh Angus and Pamela Smith were re-elected to the Board.
(6) Matthew Jebb thanked Christopher Bailes (elected 2003), Wolfgang Bopp (elected 2000) and Mark Sparrow (elected 2000) for there contributions to the continued growth of PlantNetwork over the past decade. The Board of Trustees and Judy Cheney were thanked for all they had done during the year in running PlantNetwork. The meeting closed at about 5.45pm.