Ros Burnley (Co-Chair), Director at Adrow Ltd

Ros Burnley, Adrow

Ros is a consultant whose projects include facilitation of trailblazer apprenticeships across horticulture, forestry and agriculture, content development for training and assessment, research and project management of strategic and partnership projects.  She is a Unit Assessor for the Royal Horticultural Society Master of Horticulture degree level award.   She is also a member of the RHS Education Committee, the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG), Education and Employment committee and the Forestry Skills Forum.    Ros has a degree from Oxford University in Biological Sciences and an MSc in Horticulture from the University of Reading.  She also holds qualifications in arboriculture, teaching and project management.  She started her career in the nursery stock industry and has worked both with collection gardens and with green spaces.  At Lantra she worked on career development, apprenticeships, qualifications, skills registers, and grant funded projects.  

Stephen Herrington (Co-Chair), Head Gardener, The Newt in Somerset

Stephen is Head Gardener at The Newt, having previously been Head Gardener at Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens in West Sussex, Head Gardener at National Trust Nymans and Curator of Glasgow Botanic Gardens. He has worked at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and trained at Tresco Abbey Gardens and RHS Garden Wisley. Stephen holds a BSc (Hons) in Horticulture and Plantsmanship from Glasgow University.

Mark Brent (Vice Chair), Curator and Head of Horticulture, University of Oxford Botanic Garden

Mark Brent

Mark Brent, DipHort Kew, MCIH, is the Curator and Head of Horticulture at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, it is the oldest botanic garden in the UK and it is currently celebrating its 400th anniversary.
Mark began his career with the de Rothschild family at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire before moving to another Rothschild family property; Ascott House in Bedfordshire. Subsequently he has gained more than 35 years of experience working in horticulture, he undertook the Diploma course at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew before moving on to work as a Head Gardener in Cornwall where he helped develop Lamorran House Garden in St. Mawes, a frost free terraced hillside garden by the sea which incorporated both Japanese and Italianate themes over a period of 20 years. Latterly he held an appointment as Head Gardener at Walmer Castle (English Heritage) which was the former home of HRH The Queen Mother. During his time the garden underwent an extensive NHLF sponsored improvement program.
Mark has an extensive knowledge of Mediterranean flora and gardens, the warm temperate gardens of the Western British Isles and heritage horticulture.

Natalie Chivers, Curator, Treborth Botanic Garden, University of Bangor

Natalie Chivers

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.

Alison Crook, National Curator of Living Collections, National Trust

Alison Crook

Alison leads a team which provides plant curation, collections and conservation support to all 200+ gardens and parklands within the National Trust.  The National Trust holds 29 National Plant Collections and many more property collections of historic, cultural and botanic significance.  Alison’s areas of responsibility are:  plant curation and collections management (including identification, verification, research, documentation and standards);  plant propagation and nursery management (including oversight of the Plant Conservation Centre);  and the development and integration of various plant collections and nursery management systems.

Horticulture and plants are a second career, following 18 years in financial services, from legal paperwork and accounting, through to the management of large IT and process change projects, including policy, system and procedure development, budget management, planning, and risk management.

Philip Esseen, Curator of Botany & Horticulture, Chester Zoo

Phil curates the extensive plant collection at Chester Zoo and is responsible for managing and developing the gardens, tropical houses and wider landscape of the zoo. He manages a team of 20 horticulturists. As Chester Zoo’s Mission Statement is ‘Preventing Extinction’, plant conservation is a major focus for the collection, which includes five National Plant Collections of threatened species. Phil and his team are also involved in overseas field work and propagation of native plant species for re-introduction and population reinforcement. The core zoo itself covers 125 acres, and planting is designed to represent key geographical zones from around the world.

Phil has a BSc. (Hons) in Botany and a BLD (Hons) in Landscape Design from Manchester University, and has previously worked as a Landscape Architect, Nature Conservation Officer, and Local Authority Parks Manager.

Piers Horry, Garden & Outdoor Manager – Bath Portfolio, National Trust

Piers Horry

Piers is the Garden and Outdoor Manager for the National Trust in Bath, which covers the management of C17th baroque Dyrham Park, the historic Deer Park, Grade 1 listed Prior Park and the World Heritage Bath Skyline. Piers has worked for the National Trust for over 10 years and managed gardens at Hughenden Manor, Hatchlands Park and Clandon Park. Previously Piers was an ecological consultant in the private sector.

Piers has a BSc (Hons) in Ecology and is a professional member of Arboricultural Association and Chartered Institute of Horticulture.

Bryony (Brie) Langley, Botanical Horticulturist, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Bryony Langley

Brie is a Botanical Horticulturist at Kew Gardens, where she has worked for over 6 years now. Based in the iconic Palm House, she is currently helping to prepare the plants for the upcoming major renovation of the building, which will involve moving or propagating every plant. In between the required bodybuilding sessions, Brie enjoys teaching students and inspiring the public to shake off their green fingered fears. Brie has studied horticulture with the RHS, Cambridge Botanics and Kew Gardens and has a BSc in Biology Biodiversity and Conservation and a PgC in Sutainable Agriculture. 

Darach Lupton, Curator – National Botanic Gardens of Ireland

Darach Lupton graduated from the School of Horticulture at the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland in 1998; including his placement year at the RHS Garden, Wisley (1996-1997). He then went on to study Botany at Trinity College Dublin, graduating in 2002. He remained at TCD were he completed his PhD in 2007. From 2007 – 2010 was back at the National Botanical Gardens of Ireland working in the herbarium as research botanist. In early 2011 he moved to the Sultanate of Oman, where for 10-years he managed the department of Botany and Conservation at the Oman Botanic Garden. 

Darach returned to Dublin in early 2021; he is currently the Curator of the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. His interests include the conservation of the flora of Ireland and Oman, ethnobotany of Oman, and the promotion of botanic gardens and horticulture as essential tools in global plant conservation.

Dr Suzanne Moss, Director of Learning & Public Engagement, Royal Horticultural Society

Suzanne Moss

Dr Suzanne Moss is Director of Learning & Public Engagement at the Royal Horticultural Society. She has worked in horticultural education for over ten years with experience from supporting early years schools programmes, through qualifications, apprenticeships and to degree level programmes. After training in horticulture at RHS Wisley, Sue completed a PhD in the history of gardens as scientific collections and a Postdoctoral Fellowship on the same subject at the University of York. She is Vice Chair of the Environmental Horticulture Group, and has sat on the development groups for many qualifications including Apprenticeships and T’Levels. As well as nerding out on horticultural history, Sue also likes writing, building things, gin and dogs.

Ann Steele, Head of Gardens & Designed Landscapes, National Trust for Scotland

Ann Steele

Ann has botanic garden and nursery experience but has spent the majority of her career with the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), beginning as a volunteer at Inverewe Garden, returning later to work her way up to her current lead role as part of the Trust’s Conservation and Policy team. She has worked directly with most of the Trust’s gardens at different times, though with a focus in the west; this led to her becoming the Trust’s plant health and biosecurity lead, following outbreaks of Phytophthora there, and also to becoming a member of the  UK Government’s Plant Health Advisory Forum. In 2016 Ann was invited to review the Trust’s gardens and identify priorities for action and investment. This has resulted in a number of significant initiatives for the organisation, the most public one being its pilot Garden Apprenticeship Scheme.

Nicola Thomas, A La Carte Consulting Ltd

Nicola is passionate about helping food and drink companies accelerate their overseas sales and build sustainable export revenue streams. Drawing on over 20 years strategic and hands-on commercial industry experience (the good, the bad and the ugly!) she supports management teams and company owners to develop and implement pragmatic international expansion strategies and plans, enabling them to overcome the ‘pain points’ they encounter as they grow overseas, such as prioritising markets; building high-performance distribution networks and optimising limited financial and human resources.

Nicola works with SME and mid-market manufacturers and wholesalers; professional service firms; government agencies and trade associations. In November 2021, she was recognised as the UK’s top SME export adviser by Enterprise Nation.

Dr Matthew Jebb (President)


Matthew  is an Irish botanist and taxonomist specialising in the  plant genera Squamellaria, Myrmecodia, Hydnophytum, Myrmephytum and Anthorrhiza, as well as the carnivorous plant genus Nepenthes.

Matthew was Chair of PlantNetwork from 2004 – 2015.