Four horticultural experts appointed as new Vice Presidents for Plant Heritage

5th December, 2023

Plant Heritage has appointed four new Vice Presidents who will work alongside the charity’s team of dedicated staff, Board of Trustees and existing Vice Presidents to ensure that Plant Heritage’s aim of conserving the diversity of garden plants for future generations is achieved.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s current Curator of Living Collections David Knott DHE SHM CHort FIHort, leading rose expert and David Austin Roses alumni Michael Marriott, RHS President Emeritus Elizabeth Banks CBE, DL, CMLI, F.Hort and RHS Judge Sarah Bray will each now act as an ambassador for Plant Heritage, and have been appointed in recognition of their distinguished service to the charity and their ability to make a significant contribution to Plant Heritage’s objectives.

The four new Vice Presidents join existing Vice Presidents Christopher Brickell, Jamie Compton, Corinna, Lady Hamilton, Roy Lancaster and Sir Roy Strong. 

Cecilia Bufton, Chairman of Plant Heritage says: “Welcoming David Knott, Michael Marriott, Elizabeth Banks and Sarah Bray as Plant Heritage’s new Vice Presidents is a real joy. Each brings a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to their new roles, which I’ve no doubt will enable us to go from strength to strength. We are very much looking forward to seeing where Plant Heritage goes next with their expert guidance.”

David Knott DHE SHM CHort FIHort has worked all over the globe, from Longwood Gardens in the USA to undertaking fieldwork in Korea and Nepal. David is now based at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as their Curator of Living Collections, which is home to nine National Plant Collections including Aeschynanthus spp., Trillium spp. and natural hybrids, and Zingiber spp.

Michael Marriott has been a passionate gardener his whole life. He began working at world-famous rose garden David Austin Roses in 1985 – also home to a historic Rosa National Plant Collection – and despite retiring in 2019, Michael is still immersed in the rose and gardening world through lecturing, writing and consulting.

Responsible for recreating several historic gardens throughout Europe and the USA through her internationally renowned landscape architectural consultancy, Elizabeth Banks CBE, DL, CMLI, F.Hort was also President of the RHS between 2010-2013. Her family garden at Hergest Croft Gardens in Herefordshire holds three National Plant Collections – Acer, Betula and Zelkovaand is considered one of the best collections of trees and shrubs in private hands.

Plant Heritage’s fourth new Vice President is Sarah Bray, an RHS Judge, member of the RHS Woody Plant Committee and Trustee and Manager of High Beeches Woodland and Water Garden in West Sussex. The 27-acre landscaped woodland and water garden is planted with several rare shrubs and trees, and is where a Stewartia National Plant Collection is cared for.

Plant Heritage is a leading horticultural conservation charity that champions and conserves garden plants to ensure they remain in cultivation and don’t become lost from our gardens. The National Plant Collections – of which there are now over 700 – are a vital resource the heart of the charity and keep thousands of different plant groups alive which might be threatened by climate change, emerging pests and diseases or changing trends.

As a small charity Plant Heritage relies on hundreds of dedicated volunteers to ensure their vital plant conservation work is possible. To find out more about Plant Heritage and how you can help, or how to become a Collection Holder, Plant Guardian, or member, visit

eg: plant genus, common name, county, collection holder name.