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23 Jul 2019

Are you the key to unlocking our plant heritage stories?

Written by Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening (Policy)
A close-up of a reddish pink flower, with leaves on the branch in the background
‘Trillium sulcatum’, part of the collection at Threave Garden, Dumfries & Galloway
We’re recognising the importance of the garden plants we grow by investing in expertise to identify and record our collections, help direct their development and share their fascinating stories.

The National Trust for Scotland’s gardens are full to the brim with plants. Our collections range from tiny rock plants at Branklyn to massive trees at Brodick; from daffodils at Brodie to fruit and vegetables at Kellie, Inverewe and Culzean. Some of our plants were wild-sourced by famous Scottish plant hunters; others were bred in cultivation. Some are commonly found in front gardens across the country, while others are threatened in the wild. Our plant collections are bursting with back stories that we want to share but we need help to make better use of all the information we have, and to fill the gaps with further identification, recording and research. For that reason we’re currently seeking our first ever Curator of Plant Collections.

Blue poppies in Branklyn Garden
‘Meconopsis’ at Branklyn Garden, Perthshire

Ann Steele, Head of Heritage Gardening for the Trust, explains: ‘We’re certainly not starting from scratch – we already have over 100,000 records on computer but our software has become dated, as is some of our information. We also know we have so much more to learn about our plant collections and to share with visitors and professional gardening colleagues alike. I’m delighted that we’ve created this exciting new role of Curator of Plant Collections to help us achieve this.’

While this may seem a big task, it will be a joint effort. The National Trust for Scotland’s team of skilled and knowledgeable professional gardeners is already the key resource for information about our plant collections and for hands-on recording. However, we know how busy they are caring for our gardens day in, day out. We’ll be looking into the best ways we can support an accelerated process of information gathering with help from others too, both volunteers and professionals.

Ann adds: ‘This could be a dream job for the right person – combining an interest in plants, attention to detail, an organised approach to work, plenty of curiosity and an ability to recognise a good plant story for our members and visitors. If this sounds like you, we’d love you to apply!’

The closing date for applications is Friday 2 August 2019. If you’re interested in applying, please view our vacancies page.