Sara Redstone

Sara is responsible for biosecurity across RHS Gardens, Reception, Retail, Shows and other activities, and leads a team of 6 plant health specialists

What do you do?

I work with my team and fellow RHS managers to ensure that we have the knowledge, skills, resources and support needed to deliver on RHS commitments – such as achieving Plant Healthy certification across all five RHS Gardens by 2025. I represent the RHS on several professional organisations and government stakeholder groups. These are invaluable in helping me to keep abreast of relevant changes to horticultural practice, legislation and processes, develop plans and ensure we provide the most appropriate guidance and advice.  

“I’m passionate about the benefit of plants and gardens to people and wildlife and find my varied role at the RHS – supporting and enhancing the art, science and practice of gardening – challenging, satisfying and intellectually rewarding”

Why is your team’s research important?

Healthy plants and good hygiene practices are vital for great gardens and happy, healthy people and wildlife. Our main focus, as the Biosecurity team, is to facilitate and support staff, students, contractors, suppliers and those involved in events to demonstrate biosecurity best practices and help to keep our plants, gardens and businesses safe.

We work to identify and mitigate potential risks to plant health associated with the movement of plants and plant parts (such as cuttings, foliage, seeds and bark), people, goods and machinery.  We do this through undertaking risk assessments, audits and inspections, surveillance and monitoring, delivering teaching and training, public engagement and providing advice for staff and members.

Projects I’m working on now

  • Strategic plans for the Biosecurity and Plant Health team 2023-2028, including policy needs, management of invasive non-native plant species, contingency planning, training and staff development 
  • Establishing resource requirements (personnel, training, CPD, infrastructure) to improve plant health and biosecurity practices across the five RHS sites and activities
  • Plans for public engagement on plant health and biosecurity – working with Defra and other partners
  • Developing plans for increased surveillance and monitoring across the five RHS sites
  • A proposal to develop and fund a 12-month practical work placement in plant health and biosecurity


  • RHS Harlow Carr certified Plant Healthy December 2022 - the first English public garden to be certified (kudos to Paul Cook, Kirsty Wright and the many others involved at Harlow Carr and across the RHS in helping us to achieve this milestone)
  • RHS biosecurity policy - developed, agreed and signed off December 2022
  • Established a monthly online induction session on biosecurity aimed at all staff – started January 2023


  • Redstone S, Fox A. (2021) The biosecurity risks of seeds in a botanic garden context. Sibbaldia: The International Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, (20), p147–162
  • Gasson PE, Lancaster CA, Young R, Redstone S et al. (2021) WorldForestID: Addressing the need for standardized wood reference collections to support authentication analysis technologies; a way forward for checking the origin and identity of traded timber. Plants, People, Planet, 2020, p1–12
  • Malumphy C, Redstone, S. (2015) First incursion of Tasmanian eucalyptus beetle. Paropsisterna selmani in Britain, with a review of Paropsisterna species recorded in Britain (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). British Journal of Entomology and Natural History, 28(4), p205–210
  • Couch C, Molmou D, Camara B, Cheek M, Merklinger F, Davies L, Harvey Y, Lopez Poveda L, Redstone S. (2014) Conservation of threatened Guinean inselberg species. Abstracts of the XXth AETFAT Congress, South Africa, Abstract 96
  • Malumphy C, Redstone S. (2012) Grey scale Pseudoparlatoria ostreata Cockerell (Hemiptera: Diaspididae), a pest of indoor plantings new to Britain. Entomologist's Gazette, 63 (2), p107–114, 28 ref
  • Roberts SJ, Brough J, Everett B, Redstone S. (2004) Extraction methods for Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris from brassica seed. Seed Science and Technology, 32 (2), p439–453, 16 ref

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.