Magnolia campbellii 'Charles Raffill'

Caley Council and Committees

The policy and management of the Society is directed by a Council and is currently supported by an Honorary Treasurer, a part time Administrator and a Development Officer who manages our Grow & Learn project. The Council is made up of a President, Vice Presidents and elected members.

The Council has adopted a range of Committees which help direct the activities of the Society:

Education, Show, Programme, Publications, and a Strategic Group that is overseeing the development programme.

The Council usually meets four or five times a year.

Patron – Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal

  • David Knott SHM
    David Knott SHM Honorary President (President 2016 - 2021)

    Curator Living Collection, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh [RBGE]. Previously Curator of Dawyck Botanic Garden, near Peebles, and Garden Supervisor at Logan Botanic Garden, Head Gardener Castle Kennedy Gardens, Assistant Head Gardener National Trust for Scotland’s [NTS] Brodick Castle Garden, Isle of Arran spent a year at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania. Studied at Threave Gardens [NTS], and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and started his career at Branklyn Garden [NTS] Perth.

    Involved in RBGE’s contribution to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) Target 8 project work in Scotland and has undertaken fieldwork in China, Japan, Korea, and Nepal.

The Council members:

  • Colin Ainsworth
    Colin Ainsworth President

    Colin started as an Apprentice Gardener with Blackpool Parks Department in 1972 and went on to gain the City & Guilds and National Certificate in Horticulture at Lancashire College and a Diploma of Horticulture from RBGE.

    He has had a varied career – Horticulture Technician/Instructor at Warwickshire College of Agriculture and various roles with Dundee City Parks Dept: Training Officer, Assistant Horticultural Officer, Horticultural Officer and Health & Safety Officer for the former Leisure & Communities Department.

    He was heavily involved with the organisation and logistics for the Dundee Flower & Food Festival from its inception in 1987 through to 2011, when he took early retirement.

    He is a member of the Hardy Plant Society and a judge for Keep Scotland Beautiful & also an assessor for ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ Awards.

    He has a passion for the propagation of hardy perennials and often leads workshops for The Caley.

  • Robert Ross
    Robert Ross Vice President

    Robert studied Horticulture at Auchincruive, gaining an HND with Distinction. Keen to practice his skills, he worked as a gardener at Aberdeen’s Duthie Park during a multi-million pound regeneration project. In 2013, he joined the Commonwealth War Graves Commission where he is now Regional Operations Co-ordinator covering Scotland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Robert is also a judge for Legion Scotland’s Best Kept War Memorial competition, and enjoys spending time at home tending his own garden when family life allows.

  • Jim Jermyn SHM
    Jim Jermyn SHM Vice President

    Jim trained at Oaklands College of Agriculture and Horticulture at St Albans.  During his time at St Albans he spent a year at Ingwerson’s alpine plant nursery in East Grinstead and was hooked!  After his studies he spent time in Munich Botanic Garden and its associated alpine gardens in Schahen Alpengarten.  He set up an alpine garden near Lake Garda before taking over Edrom Nurseries in Coldingham where he cultivated rare alpine plants for 20 years and exhibited alpine plants across the UK.  In 2000 he took on the role of Show Manager for Gardening Scotland, and Ayr Flower Show until December 2016 when he became Property Manager/Head Gardener at NTS Branklyn Gardens, Perth.  Jim’s passion for alpines has persisted throughout his career

  • Colin Wren
    Colin Wren Vice President

    Colin childhood ambition was to be a gardener and I think we can say that he fulfilled that ambition. Since completing his formal horticultural education, he has worked in a variety of environments, both in the UK and abroad.

    He currently works for NTS as one of four Gardens Managers, based at Newhailes Estate. He oversees the management of gardens throughout East and Central Scotland.

    Besides horticulture, Colin has an interest in photography and hillwalking as well as, the somewhat more unusual, buses and public transport.

  • Sarah Bennett
    Sarah Bennett Council member

    Sarah has had a lifelong love of gardening inspired by her Grandad and Dad. She was given her own patch at a young age to grow what else – radishes! Since then, she has always found somewhere to grow things – be it a windowsill, pots, an allotment or her own garden.

    She studied botany at university, graduating from Imperial College London in 1984 and has completed the Certificate of Practical Horticulture and RHS level 2 award, both at RBGE. Despite this horti background, her professional career took her to the world of brewing where, amongst other things, she had the enviable job of tasting beers and ciders for Heineken.

    Her plant passions include spring bulbs, fruit, auriculas and cut flowers.

    She leads the FoSP community orchard group at Saughton where they have established a trained fruit orchard and a wild orchard to increase the biodiversity.

    She particularly enjoy gardening with others as you can learn so much and make good friends.

  • Anne Carlaw
    Anne Carlaw Council member

    Anne is an avid amateur gardener, gaining great satisfaction and peace from her garden. She grows organic fruit , vegetables and herbs for the kitchen and loves perfume in the garden.
    As a founder member of the SSBA (Scottish Society of Botanical Artists), she grows a variety of plants and bulbs to paint in watercolour.

  • Kathryn Pitts
    Kathryn Pitts Council member

    Kathryn’s interest in horticulture began as a small child, pottering in the garden at home. She loved to pick flowers to bring into the house

    She worked for many years in a variety of health-related areas before specialising in Microbiology. Professional development was expected but was surprised when she managed to convince her supervisor that RHS qualifications were appropriate!

    Following retirement, she became President of Penicuik Horticultural Society in 2013 and became a council member of Scottish Gardeners’ Forum in 2017, first as Registers secretary, progressing to Chair in 2019.

  • Charlotte Whittle
    Charlotte Whittle Council member

    Charlotte is a valued member of the Saughton Crew, a cheerful band of volunteers who help to look after the Saughton Walled Garden. She is also a long-standing member of the Caley and is very active with Apple week and the Spring Show. Her engagement with the general public is brilliant to see and she has been responsible for ensnaring unsuspecting members of the public who suddenly find themselves joining the Caley. As a young and enthusiastic gardener, she exemplifies what we would hope other young people will do and that is to enjoy the gardening journey.

  • Carolann Philp
    Carolann Philp Council Member

    Carolann has been involved with local gardening charities for over six years including overseeing a large community garden & orchard. She is also an experienced beekeeper and has for the past 5 years been producing, marketing and selling honey. Carolann has participated in Grow & Learn in Nature as a student and is currently studying the RHS level 2 in Horticulture with the RBGE having already achieved a Diploma in Gardening & Landscape Design. Carolann has previously administered and edited various social media community pages. Her wide background in community-based activities including work with children and families and social media will help the Caley extend its reach.

  • M.T.O’Donnell
    M.T.O’Donnell Council Member

    MT is currently editor of the Scotland Grows Magazine & is also a member of UK Garden Media Guild for gardening writers. She is also an RHS Schools Mentor and steers a weekly community gardening blog and runs gardening workshops. MT has a particular interest in gardening for health & well-being and has undertaken several Thrive & Trellis courses. She has written for various national publications and has been on national radio promoting the benefits of gardening.

  • Lewis Normand
    Lewis Normand Council Member

    Lewis has a strong and very wide knowledge of the horticultural industry in its widest sense, throughout the UK and beyond. He also contributes to trade and amateur gardening publications. Lewis has his own website and is Panel chair for ProLandscaper tradeshow Futurescapes. He is currently employed by a large UK wide hardy plant nursery. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society, Chartered Member of the Institute of Horticulture and is the social media secretary of the Hebe Society. In his own words “I live and breathe plants & horticulture. I want to see the professional side of the industry better respected throughout the world and to engage with the amateur market, encouraging everyone to develop their interest in plants, gardens and the landscape.”

  • Colin Stirling
    Colin Stirling Council Member

    Colin has a very strong educational and advisory background in the Horticultural industry from being senior Lecturer at Bishop Burton College to being employed as a senior horticultural advisor with SRUC. After this he had his own advisory practice specialising in soft fruit.

    Colin has been closely involved with Grow & Learn as a verifier. Current Chair of the Pitcaple Environmental Project and a Director of Trellis are examples of his charitable involvement. His background in education and with various charities will be very useful and hopefully help extend the reach of the Caley.

  • Colin Crosbie
    Colin Crosbie Council Member

    Colin has worked in the horticultural industry from being a student at Auchincruive then at the Savill & Valley Gardens before being appointed head gardener to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at Royal Lodge Windsor, then the RHS Wisley as a superintendent and finally as Curator. He returned to Dumfries to set up his own garden at Dalswinton Mill. Colin has considerable experience with TV and radio and lectures on a range of gardening & horticultural subjects. Colin is involved in various charities including Bethany Christian Trust and Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland where he is interim CEO. Colin is also a trustee for the Galloway National Park Association and opens his garden under the Scotland’s National Garden Scheme.

  • Caroline Kerr-Smith
    Caroline Kerr-Smith Council Member

    Caroline studied horticulture and garden design at Norwood Hall and Capel Manor in London. She went on to work as a garden designer and gardener in private practice, later as a lecturer in further and higher education loving passing on her knowledge of horticulture and design. She particularly enjoyed working with her students on gardens at RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows.  In the last few years Caroline has volunteered with the Malleny Gardens, the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and the RHS Green Plan It schools project. She continues to enjoy garden design, sustainable gardening, her allotment and squeezing in just one more plant in her garden!

  • Susan Swallow
    Susan Swallow Council Member

The co-opted members

  • Max Leslie
    Max Leslie Honorary Treasurer

    Max’s interest in horticulture started at a young age with visits to his grandmother’s floristry shop in the Wirral and stories of his grandfather, who was a silviculturist trained at The Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. Although Max later pursued studies in Economics & Food Security, volunteering with The Caley from 2018 reignited his love for horticulture. Now pursuing a career as an educator, Max can easily ramble on to students about all things plants, food, and economy; working with both children and young adults. Lack of a formal horticultural education does not stop this amateur gardener from pestering Caley experts with endless questions. Max and his partner are greatly enjoying the chance to birdwatch and relax in their new garden south of the Pentland Hills

  • Stan da Prato
    Stan da Prato Co-opted Member

    Stan grew up in North Berwick where he learned practical horticulture from his father, a professional gardener, before a career in education. A former secretary of the Scottish Begonia Society he now concentrates on alpines. He edits the journal Scottish Birds, while his spare time studies of local song birds led to a doctorate from Edinburgh University. He chairs the Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve committee. He is active in several local gardening clubs as well as North Berwick in Bloom, is a judge for Beautiful Scotland and a recipient of an RHS community champion award.

  • Pam Whittle CBE
    Pam Whittle CBE President 2011 - 2016

    Pam is a very keen amateur gardener who is passionate about the benefits of gardening, in particular to health and well-being. She currently co-ordinates the Caley Spring Show and represents the Caley on the Saughton Management Board.

Administration

  • Julie Muir
    Julie Muir Administration (including Secretary & Membership Secretary roles)

    Julie has a keen interest in anything horticultural and has an honours degree in Horticulture with Plantsmanship which she studied for at SRUC and RBGE. She is also a qualified florist.

    Working part-time, she is the initial point of contact for the Caley. She is always happy to receive material such as event news, plant sales, interesting photographs etc for inclusion on the website and in the monthly e- newsletter.

Grow & Learn

  • Jean Gavin
    Jean Gavin Grow & Learn Development Officer

    Jean has been The Caley’s Grow and Learn Development Officer since 2014. She was previously Head Gardener and Gardens Manager at The Hidden Gardens, Glasgow, Trellis and FCFCG fieldworker. Before the horticulture ‘light bulb’ moment, Jean was a senior graphic designer for Renfrewshire Council.  She is passionate about the benefits of gardening for all and inclusion for all.

Past presidents:

  • George Anderson MBE SHM
    George Anderson MBE SHM President 2005-2011 & Honorary President 2014-2022

    George started his Horticultural career straight from school when he took the post of gardeners boy at Smeaton Gardens near East Linton. From there a progression through College in Edinburgh lead to a period of work in the Clyde Valley at Garrion Farm where Messrs J Warnock and Son grew a wide range of vegetables fruit and tomatoes.  George joined the student course at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1966 and, after completing his three-year diploma course, joined the staff as a Botanical foreman. Progression through the ranks and some good luck saw him remain at the Botanics until 2004 when he retired from his post as Head of the School of Horticulture.  On retiral he became a member of Council of the RHS, President of The Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society and was invited to become a presenter on BBC Scotland’s Beechgrove Garden, which he still enjoys.  His hobbies include walking, gardening and allotmenteering, game shooting, fishing, birdwatching and travel.

  • David Knott SHM
    David Knott SHM Honorary President (President 2016 - 2021)

    Curator Living Collection, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh [RBGE]. Previously Curator of Dawyck Botanic Garden, near Peebles, and Garden Supervisor at Logan Botanic Garden, Head Gardener Castle Kennedy Gardens, Assistant Head Gardener National Trust for Scotland’s [NTS] Brodick Castle Garden, Isle of Arran spent a year at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania. Studied at Threave Gardens [NTS], and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and started his career at Branklyn Garden [NTS] Perth.

    Involved in RBGE’s contribution to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) Target 8 project work in Scotland and has undertaken fieldwork in China, Japan, Korea, and Nepal.

  • Pam Whittle CBE
    Pam Whittle CBE President 2011 - 2016

    Pam is a very keen amateur gardener who is passionate about the benefits of gardening, in particular to health and well-being. She currently co-ordinates the Caley Spring Show and represents the Caley on the Saughton Management Board.

The Awards Committee is chaired by the Honorary President, David Knott SHM

Editor of  The Caledonian Gardener – Stan de Prato

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