Sibbaldia The Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture: essential reading for horticulturists, collection managers, plant collectors, students, plantsmen, botanists, educators, plant conservationists, ecologists …

In the early noughties Dr David Rae, Director of Horticulture at the time, and passionate botanic garden advocate set up Sibbaldia. Then it was ‘an occasional series of horticultural notes from RBGE’, it is now published once a year as The Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture and Volume 13 is out now. In 2003 when David decided that it was time that horticulturists had their own means of communicating their knowledge and which would be of equal quality to the other RBGE journal, the Edinburgh Journal of Botany, the first volume was a slim 80 pages and litho printed in the traditional way. Volumes now average nearly 200 pages and use the more economical method of digital printing.

Horticulture in botanic gardens can vary as greatly as botanic gardens can: Staff can be dealing with rare plants, popular cultivars, old trees, heritage buildings, vegetables, conservation and research collections, glasshouses, changeable weather, volunteers, and students. Botanic gardens also tend to be public spaces with an enormous range of events, visitors, students and community groups and are supported by a range of funders.

Horticulturists are in the middle of all this activity as guardians and promotors of the main attraction, the plants. A huge amount of information and knowledge is amassed because so much of horticulture is based on experience and observation. Traditional communication about growing plants is by word of mouth and often just shared with close colleagues. Historically, gardeners are given vocational, practical training and as a consequence may not have the inclination or habit of packaging their experience in an academic format. Yet the knowledge held by many gardeners is essential to the future of horticulture and botanic gardens themselves. Without generations of healthy plants there will be no garden!

Laying ropes for Giant Rhubarb on sea cliffs and high sea cliffs in Ireland, Smyth et al. 2013.

Implementing Target 10 of the GSPC. Managing invasive species in Ireland, Smyth et al. 2013.

Sowing small seeds UKOTs, Corcoran et al. 2014

Developing horticultural protocols for species in UK Overseas Territories, Corcoran et al., 2014.

Cycad pollination Calonje et al. 2011

Pollinating cycads at Mongomery Botanical Center, Calonje et al. 2011

Valdivia gayana seedlings, Hughes and Ensoll, 2014.

Valdivia gayana seedlings, Hughes et al., 2014







Sibbaldia aims to broaden the conversation about what horticulturists are doing day to day and to provide a platform for discussion and learning. The editors consider submissions which communicate the skills, experiences and techniques of all the professions involved in maintaining good living collections in from botanic gardens and institutions across the world. The journal is not just for RBGE staff and over the years our vital statistics clock up contributions from over 200 authors working in over 30 botanic gardens from 27 countries. Three feature pieces can be found in every volume:

The Guest Essay There is wealth of experience and opinions in the botanic garden world and here a member of the botanic garden community is invited to share their thoughts on a topic close to their heart. In No. 13, Sophia Shaw CEO of Chicago Botanic Garden writes about the immense value of gardening to mental health: Gardening and Mental Health

The Garden Profile As gardeners we can all get very absorbed in and familiar with our own ‘patch’ and way of doing things. In this feature a garden with something in particular to celebrate such as new display or anniversary is described and illustrated. Sometimes finding out about what others do things can trigger ideas for our own projects. See: Garden Profile: Botanical Garden of the University of Oslo

The Viking Garden at the Botanical Garden of the University of Oslo, Poulsen 2015.

The opening of the Viking Garden at the Botanical Garden of the University of Oslo, Poulsen 2015.

Air layering Passiflora lindeniana, Hilgenhof, 2013.

Air layering Passiflora lindeniana, Hilgenhof, 2013.

Etlingera elatior, Yeats 2013.

Etlingera elatior, Yeats 2013.








The Student Project We encourage horticulturists, other professionals and students to submit pieces, even if they have never published before. This feature provides an opportunity for a student who produces an exceptional project to publish their work. Many other papers are also a first piece of published work for the author. It is fabulous to be able to see some of these specialist subjects in print, with informative pictures, describing what is for some every day work, and for others a fascinating and unknown world. See: Student Project: Passiflora subgenus Astrophea and The history and culitvation of Etlingera

We think that Sibbaldia has grown to be an important resource and as such the journal is essential reading for horticulturists, collection managers, plant collectors, students, plantsmen, botanists, educators, conservationists, ecologists, and more. Do have a look and find out something that you never knew about plants in botanic gardens. Current and all past volumes are available to download as individual papers at:  Sibbaldia