View all news

Botanic Garden curator receives prestigious RHS award

Nick Wray, Curator of the Botanic Garden Bhagesh Sachania

26 February 2016

A University of Bristol horticulturist is to be presented with one of the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) highest awards for his work with plants and education today [Thursday 25 February].

Estates Office colleague Nick Wray, Curator of the Botanic Garden, has been awarded the RHS Associate of Honour for his distinguished service to horticulture in the course of his working life.  The award recognises his work of more than 30 years at the garden and for his role in creating the new Botanic Garden at The Holmes, which was the first new university botanic garden to be moved and redeveloped in the UK for nearly 40 years.

On learning of the award, Nick Wray, said: “I am delighted and honoured to accept this award for ‘distinguished services to horticulture’. I had always wanted to be a horticulturist and work with plants, even as a teenager.  Encouraged by my family I grew plants, particularly trees - one of a number of strong interests I have to this day. I have been particularly fortunate in being able to work with some inspirational people throughout my working life including the fantastic team at the Botanic Garden and the garden’s supporting Friends.”

Patrick Finch, Bursar and Director of Estates, commented: "On behalf of the Estates Office, I would like to congratulate Nick on the wonderful and well deserved recognition that he has received from the RHS. The Botanic Garden is a jewel in our crown, supporting our academic endeavour in the field of Biological Sciences while also providing a much loved visitor experience. This represents a remarkable achievement by Nick and the University's External Estates team, given the wholesale relocation of the garden only ten years ago."

Nick, who has been curator at the garden since 2004, is responsible for curating the Botanic Garden’s plant collections and promoting them as an educational and conservation resource. He has many interests in plants particularly the flora of South Africa, where he has spent years studying plants in the wild and leading tours to this biodiverse part of the world.

He is involved in teaching on the University’s BSc Biology degree, including co-teaching on second year field courses and supervising third year projects.  A large part of his work centres on public education and outreach. He has worked with the small team of dedicated Botanic Garden staff and large team of volunteers to create a vibrant programme of public engagement courses, activities and events, both at the garden and in the city. The Ballast Seed Garden is one such project which involves other city-based partner organisations. Nick has developed the horticultural design, planting and interpretation for the project and has led interpretive tours and talks.

Nick Wray added: “I enjoy exciting people about plants, their beauty, diversity and their place in a complex web of living things, including mankind. Many of the solutions to the problems facing the modern world are to be found in the world of plants. Motivating people about the possibilities contained within plants is key to society finding a balance with nature and exploiting the resources within the plant kingdom in a sustainable way.

“I have been lucky to travel to many parts of the world and see the speed at which healing of the land can take place when people work with plants. With societies vulnerable to environmental damage, plants and horticulture help with living, working and socialising environments. Their value in cities has recently entered the mainstream of planners and designers. Long may this continue and help enthuse the next generation of horticulturists.”

Further information

For further information on Nick, the RHS and the Botanical Gardens, please see the article on our University homepage