The Head of Interpretation’s role is to create interpretation that informs, entertains and fascinates all Garden visitors, whatever their age, gender or background. This is done through signage, exhibitions, audio-visual, digital, events, talks, tours, trails, art, theatre and family activities.
One of the pleasures of creating interpretation in a botanic garden is that you need to learn about and understand your subject before you can make it accessible to others.
You also need to be interested in the first place and to care.
Through this work, I’ve had the chance to learn about fungi, plant evolution, Welsh geology, tropical rainforest conservation, Mediterranean climate plants, lichens, green energy, sculpture, plant genetics and pollinators.
I’ve then been able to share this knowledge and enthusiasm with our visitors through all kinds of interpretive techniques from physical signs, displays, trails, website development and programming our Oriel Yr Ardd Gallery through to giving talks and guided walks, making films and apps, commisioning theatre pieces and running events such as Wales Wildflower Day, Medicines in May and Wales Fungus Day: this began in 2013 and was later taken up and developed into UK Fungus Day in 2015 by the British Mycological Society, for whom I was member of the Education and Outreach Committee for 3 years.
As a former professional field botanist and natural history curator at Oldham Museum and Art Gallery for 12 years, I have had a passion for, and working knowledge of, nature conservation for most of my working life. I’ve used this knowledge to help our farmers to farm our Waun Las NNR for biodiversity and its conservation, and to inspire others to learn from us: one of my proudest achievements here was to work with our former Estates Manager Tim Bevan to achieve National Nature Reserve status for the Garden’s organic working farm now known as Waun Las.
I’m also proud to have worked so positively with many dedicated volunteers at the Garden especially in the setting up such a busy and thriving volunteer conservation group, with library volunteers to create exhibitions like the Women Botanists of Wales, and with members of our Stitching Botanical Group, who in their own way have inspired our visitors to become plant and fungi lovers too. It might seem unconventional for the Head of Interpretation in a national botanic garden to be the go-to person for the likes of fungi and art but this isn’t a conventional garden.
I am an accredited Member of the Association of Heritage Interpreters and has been responsible for interpretation at the Garden for the past 15 years.