Scott Galloway, BSc (Hons) Horticulture with Plantsmanship, Edinburgh

“Studying at SRUC has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. SRUC staff are incredibly passionate and inspiring and have been supportive from day one.”

Over the past six years, Horticulture with Plantsmanship graduate Scott Galloway has amassed the UK’s largest collection of Bergenia – alpine, perennial flowering plants commonly known as elephant’s ears.

His passion for horticulture grew out of a volunteering job with the Woodlands Community Garden, which he did while working at the Glasgow Film Theatre.

Having developed an interest in the idea of self-sufficiency through food growing the 30-year-old left his job and signed up to do an HNC in Horticulture at Glasgow Botanic Gardens in 2017.

This was followed by a MacRobert Trust Horticultural Traineeship in Aberdeenshire after which he worked as a gardener at National Trust for Scotland’s Greenbank Garden back in Glasgow.

It was here that he was introduced to Bergenia while managing the National Collection of 121 taxa held there.

“I became interested in some of the rarer species and cultivars at risk in cultivation and started noting their key morphological characteristics and propagating them to maintain their genetic diversity,” he said.

“I was lucky to be able to complete an HND while working there and to run growing trials of Bergenia cultivars on site during Covid-19.

“When I left the NTS to work for the Royal Horticultural Society as a Plant Profile Writer, I continued to grow Bergenia and started my own personal collection for research purposes.

“Through this I have built a collection of more than 150 plants and made links with growers, botanists and specialists across the UK and internationally, from France, Italy and Germany to New Zealand and the USA.”

While studying for his degree at SRUC Edinburgh’s campus and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, he discovered a gap in the research into the evolution of Bergenia and was inspired to undertake a deeper taxonomic study into the species.

In the summer of 2022, he secured a funded placement at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley Garden in Surrey.

“I spent the summer undertaking DNA extractions in the newly built labs at Hilltop; collecting, drying and pressing specimens for the herbarium; and conducting archival research in the libraries at Wisley, Lindley Library and Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew,” he said.

“My samples were sent to the USA for next generation sequencing and the data I received was used as part of my fourth year Honours project.

“From this I have generated the first comprehensive phylogeny of Bergenia at the species level and been able to analyse, for the first time, the evolution, relationships and biogeographic patterns.

“Having finished my degree, I hope to continue this research in a PhD.”