Minutes of the 14th Annual General Meeting of PlantNetwork

(1) ​Welcome
Matthew Jebb, Chairman of the Board, welcomed all those present.

(2) Minutes of the Thirteenth Annual General Meeting
Minutes of the meeting held on Monday 20 April 2009 at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire were approved.

(3) Report for the year to 31 March 2010, by Matthew Jebb, Chairman of the Board
Meetings: A full programme of meetings had been held, including 3 conferences, 2 forum groups and 2 other training days. All had been well attended, and talks and reports had been posted on the website. The meetings in 2009/10 were as follows:

  • Botany in the Garden, Conference and AGM, National Botanic Garden of Wales, 20 – 22 April 2009
  • Pests and diseases on trees and shrubs – how to recognise symptoms, training day at the Central Science Laboratories, near York, 24 June 2009
  • Displays of Plants from Arid Places, Glasshouse Forum, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 16 September 2009
  • Fruit and Vegetables in Public Gardens, Conference, West Dean Gardens, 6–8 October 2009
  • Managing and Sustaining New and Old Tree Collections for the Future, Tree Forum, Exbury Gardens, 22 October 2009
  • CBD and CITES for Gardens, Training day, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 23 February 2010
  • Pests, Diseases and Invasive Plants: running a clean garden, Conference, University of Sheffield,
    22–24 March 2010.

The website (plantnetwork.org) had continued to provide network news and reports from PlantNetwork meetings, as well as information on forthcoming meetings. A quick overview of some of the new features on the website were given, and Gardens were again 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. Judy Cheney had continued to compile and edit an excellent newsletter for members, and two issues had been published, in June 2009 and January 2010.

Membership in the year had totalled 199 members: 94 institutional members and 105 individual or personal members, including free membership for 18 Trainees on placements in gardens as part of the Historic and Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme. Personal members within institutions that are already members of PlantNetwork get a preferential rate, and, in this past year, 31 availed of this. The rates for personal membership continue to be kept as low as possible (£10 to £33). There are no plans to raise the subscription rates next year.

Company The importance of the trustees’ activities in regard to maintaining a Duty of Care (fulfilling our aims) and a Duty of Prudence (finances) in running the charity were outlined, and members were reminded of the public benefits of PlantNetwork: namely, the education of the public in the use of plant collections for purposes of horticulture, science, education and conservation; and encouraging the highest standards of practice in all aspects of the management of plant collections and their conservation; facilitating networking and training among holders of plant collections through a programme of conferences, forum groups and technical training days, a comprehensive website and regular newsletters.

Student places at conferences: We endeavour to keep the cost of meetings as low as possible to facilitate attendance by all members, but at the same time covering reasonable and necessary costs that arise. Recognising the need to assist those on small incomes or those not in full-time employment (who may not be able to have their costs covered by an employer), the Board has decided that, in future, we will offer reduced ‘Student Rates’ at conferences. The number of these assisted places will be limited, but such subsidised places will not be restricted to members. Submissions will be invited with the notices sent out to members, and applicants will be asked to write a letter in support of their application.

(4) Accounts for the year to 31 March 2010
The accounts for the year to 31 March 2010 had not yet been audited.
Last year subscriptions remained more or less identical to 2008/9 at about £18 000, and this provided approximately 50% of our basic income for the year. More than £2800 had been received as donations, including an award of £1,000 from the Finnis Scott Foundation. A positive balance was expected for the year, partly as a result of the award and of three conferences (rather than the more usual two) falling within the financial year.

Basic expenditure continues to be just in excess of £33,000. Reviewing the past 6 years reveals that there is a continuing and stable shortfall of ca. £12,000 a year, with some years better than others. Surplus from well-attended conferences usually contributes to filling this gap, but there is a continual need for fundraising. Over the past few years, PlantNetwork has gradually built up reserves, providing sufficient funds to enable the organisation to run for well over 12 months. Interest on the deposit account over the year declined to £27, compared with more than £1,000 in previous years.

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. Jessica Gould stood down in January 2010, and Ros Burnley stood down in February 2010. Hugh Angus, Alasdair Hood and Pamela Smith stood down from the Board at the AGM; and were subsequently re-elected to the Board.

(6) Matthew Jebb thanked all the members, particularly those who have hosted meetings over the past years, for their 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 6.15 pm.