International Women's Day: 100 leading women in UK horticulture UPDATED FREE ACCESS

Sue Biggs

In honour of International Women's Day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, Horticulture Week has listed 100 Leading Women in UK horticulture:

Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group research has found 24% of people working in the landscaping industry identify as women and in the overall ornamental horticulture sector, 38%.

Some 38 of the 191 Victoria Medals of Honour awarded since 1897 have gone to women. Jekka McVicar VMH said: "Sadly there are very few women VMH’s. I'm proud to be a holder but there are so many women who are eminently worthy." She suggested Sarah Eberle, Sarah Raven (after they finish on RHS Council), Jinny Blom, Janet Cubey, Cynthia Ann Brown (manager Horticulture Collections Smithsonian Gardens USA) and Ira Wallace (Harvest Heritage Virginia USA). Current women with VMH include McVicar, Carol Klein, Lady Skelmersdale and Viscountess of Merton.

BALI’s State of Trade Survey 2020 shows a 57.1% male to 42.8% female split.

The Society of Garden Designers (SGD's) general survey in 2020, 70% of respondents were women vs 30% men. In 2015, Horticulture Week identified the same proportion with 70% of SGD's 1,041 members were female. 

Most of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show top prizes and show garden contracts are won by men. Sarah Eberle won Chelsea best in show in 2007. Arabella Lennox Boyd won the accolade in 1998 and Julie Toll in 1993. The best in show award began in 1984. Star garden designers only started to be named alongside their designs in 1976. There have been 74/235 show garden designed or part-designed by women between 2000-19. The 2020 event was cancelled and 2021's event, with the line-up yet to be finalised, is set to feature five women designers across eight gardens, including three co-designers.

Ground Control marketing manager Anna Slater is hosting a virtual event to celebrate International Women’s Day. Ground Control is celebrating women in the industry by sending all women in the company plant gifts and hosting an afternoon of talks, with a motivational speaker, Artie Shah, to speak about equality and inclusion. The group will then speak together about issues for women in the industry.

Ground Control director Kim Morrish said: "I am delighted to support International Women's Day; a day to recognise, celebrate, and share our deep appreciation for the women in our lives. I am incredibly grateful for the women in our businesses, personal lives, public and caring services who also shoulder the majority of caring responsibilities in their own lives. At Ground Control we normally focus on environmental sustainability, but there is a good reason why the UN’s fifth sustainability goal is gender equality; it is a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. I am proud to champion the advancement of women's rights and gender equality and fully support encouraging, empowering and supporting girls and women everywhere. Thank you for everything you do, your support and dedication in fighting for equality is making a difference.”

Littlewood Fencing, part-owned by Ground Control, is having their first ever event for IWD, organised by Caroline Green.

BALI diversity director Tessa Johnstone said: "BALI is taking strides to contribute to the diversification of our industry. In 2020 I joined the BALI board of directors as diversity director, to help the association achieve that commitment. In 2019, we were part of the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group’s Ornamental Horticulture Skills Survey (OHSS), which enabled us to better understand the workforce.

"According to research commissioned by the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG) undertaken by Pye Tait, around 24% of people working in the landscaping industry identify as women. While this figure is low, it is worth stating that the overall ornamental horticulture sector evens out, at 38%.

"In BALI’s State of Trade Survey 2020, responses by members in regard to the gender split in their businesses were encouraging. In response to the question ‘What % of each gender group does your workforce contain?’, the split averaged out at 57.1% male to 42.8% female (with 0.1% ‘other’).

"Although there is much work still to be done to address the disparity across the industry, BALI is encouraged by both this and the fact that our GoLandscape initiative, which encourages students and career changers to consider careers in landscaping and horticulture, is seeing an almost even split of visitors to its website.

"BALI is committed to promoting diversity of the ornamental horticulture sector, particularly in the face of its problems with skills shortages. While there is still much to do to even the gender split in our industry, we are encouraged by the indicators we are seeing so far.

"I personally would also like to see more visibility of the brilliant women who work within our industry more generally. It’s important to highlight our up-and-coming and already established female landscapers with media coverage, profiles and more nominations of our industry’s exceptional women for awards."

Inspired by IWD and Bumble CEO and youngest ever female self-made billionaire, Whitney Wolfe Herd, Interflora have launched a new £75 bouquet called The Equal Power Flower using rosebuds to highlight that just 1 in 20 of the CEOs heading up companies in the FTSE 100 are women. 

In conjunction with the global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, Horticulture Week has listed 100 Leading Women in UK horticulture:

  • RHS director general Sue Biggs
  • NFU president Minette Batters
  • NFU horticulture board chair Ali Capper
  • Chief plant health officer Nicola Spence
  • Defra minister Victoria Prentis
  • Defra minister Rebecca Pow
  • Defra permanent secretary Tamara Finkelstein 
  • Sharon Fisher: BBC Gardeners World/Chelsea series producer
  • Duchess of Northumberland: The Alnwick Garden founder
  • Bridge Farm Group managing director Louise Motala
  • Garden Industry Manufacturers Association director Vicky Nuttall
  • Society Garden Designers chairman Lynne Marcus
  • SGD past chairman Sarah Morgan 
  • Rosebourne chief executive Carol Paris
  • Young People's Horticulture Association's/Porters Fuchsias' Natalie Porter
  • National Trust director general Hilary McGrady
  • Landscape Institute president Jane Findlay
  • Caroline Owen: Scotsdale MD
  • Tammy Woodhouse - next GCA chairman, MIllbrook MD
  • Sue Allen - Greenfingers chairman, Millbrook founder
  • Jodie Fedorko, The Leicestershire Garden Design, and a BALI GoLandscape ambassador
  • Juliet Sargeant: former SGD chairman
  • Ann-Marie Powell: garden designer
  • Helena Pettit: RHS gardens and shows director
  • Kew Foundation director: Meredith Pierce Hunter
  • Kew director of marketing and commercial: Sandra Botterell
  • Beverley Glover, Cambridge University Botanic Garden director
  • Alys Fowler, garden writer
  • Glendale sales and development director Kate Anscombe 
  • Continental Landscapes executive director Michelle Maybury 
  • Countrywide Grounds Maintenance business development manager Tracy Owens
  • UK Landscapes: Talia Hayes, commercial director
  • Belderbos Landscapes: Sales and marketing director Claire Belderbos 
  • Oak View Landscapes operations director Jakki Jenner
  • Q&S Commercial Landscaping co-managing director Sue Payne 
  • AHDB CEO Jane King
  • AHDB Horticulture board chair Hayley Campbell-Gibbons
  • AHDB. Ruth Ashfield, Sector Strategy Director for Horticulture
  • HTA council regional reps: Wales: Nicola Pugh; East Anglia Gill Tacchi, central south Clare Norman (B&Q), Scotland Helen MacDonald (Merryhatton), E Midlands Helen Jackson (Swarkestone), W. Midlands Mollie Higginson (New Leaf), Home Counties Rebecca Grant (Rochfords), Yorks/NW Fiona Dean (Ravensworth). Devon/Cornwall Sarah Daniel (Pengelly), Jane Lawler (HTA Board)
  • Pippa Greenwood HTA horticulture manager
  • Sally Cullimore, HTA
  • Arit Anderson TV gardener
  • Charlie Dimmock TV gardener
  • Carol Klein TV gardener
  • Rosy Hardy: Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants
  • Sarah Eberle, garden designer, RHS Council
  • Sarah Raven, garden broadcaster/businesswoman. RHS Council
  • Xa Tollemache, garden designer, RHS Council
  • Ruth Willmott, garden designer, RHS Council
  • Christine Walkden, TV gardener
  • Rachel de Thame, TV gardener
  • Sarah Price, garden designer
  • Charlotte Harris, garden designer
  • Jo Thompson, garden designer
  • Penelope Hobhouse, garden writer
  • Joanna Fortnam, gardening editor
  • Tessa Johnstone, Johnstone Landscapes
  • Frances Dixon, project manager Maylim
  • Sally Drury, horticulture writer and HW technical editor
  • Pat Coutts, Four Oaks director
  • Plants at Work chairman Madeleine Evans
  • Jekka McVicar, grower/writer
  • Sally van der Horst, FleuroSelect,
  • Sirekit Moi, Beekenkamp, 
  • Gill Corless, Sakata
  • Claire Austin, Claire Austin Plants
  • Yvonne Jarman, Hayloft Director/Founder, 
  • Fiona Marley, Whetmans
  • Hannah Darby, Darby Nursery Stock
  • Bunny Guinness, garden designer/writer
  • Arabella Lennox Boyd, garden designer
  • Ground Control director Kim Morrish
  • HTA senior executive director Alex Vick
  • BALI diversity director Tessa Johnstone 
  • Mandy Barrie, Caulders Garden Centres
  • Sarah Wilson, Roots and All
  • Debs Goodenough, Highgrove
  • Charmay Prout, Flavourfresh
  • Pam Smith, National Trust
  • Carolyn Spray, Pentland 
  • Phillippa Stubbs, British Garden Centres
  • Advolly Richmond, garden historian
  • Jane Barker, Dalefoot
  • Catherine Dawson, Melcourt
  • Lucy Hall, BBC Gardeners' World magazine
  • Val Bourne, writer
  • Jinny Blom, designer
  • Rosemary Alexander, English Garden School
  • Joy Larkcom, writer
  • Anna Pavord, writer
  • Lady Christine Skelmersdale, Broadleigh Gardens
  • Catherine Horwood, writer
  • Suzanne Moss, RHS education and learning head
  • Tamsin Westhorpe, Garden Media Guild
  • STIHL GB MD Kay Green 
  • Howard Nurseries' Christine Howard
  • Caroline Linger, Crocus
  • Sarah Squire, Squires
  • Mairi Devlin, British Garden Centres
  • Susan Nicholas, IOH president designate
  • Heather Barrett-Mold, horticulture education consultant
  • Rachel Poletti-Gadd, River Street Events (Gardeners' World Live)
  • Anne Swithinbank, broadcaster
  • Barbara Segall, writer
  • Sue Minter, horticultural consultant
  • Amanda Sizer Barrett, Gardenex
  • Catherine Fitzgerald, garden designer

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