Spotlight on a member: Kylie Balmain

My entrance into Horticulture was as a ‘wild card’, positioned for a role with the Royal Horticulture Society in the UK, and what a great change and amazing opportunity it has been. I am not a Horticulturalist. I trained as a Management Consultant, firstly in Melbourne with Ernst & Young and then in London with PricewaterhouseCoopers. I specialised in change management, communication, marketing, and the valuation of intangible assets. I completed an MBA at Cranfield University and after a few years I wanted to join an organisation and assist with delivering complex change and be part of something significant. 

As a naïve but very enthusiastic gardener, the role at the RHS as Head of Horticultural Relations was a fantastic and challenging opportunity: re-establishing the Award of Garden Merit as a key marker for plants which perform; managing the annual investment of GBP 0.5 million on the trials field at RHS Wisley and Partner Gardens as well as launching the Perfect for Pollinators campaign; working closely with the Entomologists; introducing the Chelsea Plant of the Year Award with the support of plant committee members and RHS Council.

This role really shed light on an industry which I had not appreciated from the outside, as a mere purchaser of plant material. My eyes were opened to the breadth of businesses in the industry, the intellectual property involved in plant breeding, variety trialing, protection and licensing, as well as the scale of some of the organisations who own genetics and drive innovation in the sector.

The RHS enabled me to work with people who hold vastly different perspectives on plants, gardens and the nature world  from Science, Design, Pathology, Education, Show Gardens & Botanical Nomenclature. The ability to continually learn and be involved with people who value the craft & science of horticulture and actively share their knowledge, skills and talents has kept me in this industry.

Since returning to Australia with my family I have worked in horticultural marketing, plant licensing and held non-executive board positions with Open Gardens Australia and The Diggers Club. I established Balmain Consulting Pty Ltd and am actively working on several projects with clients. A key project is with Haars Nursery, supporting the development of their genetics and propagation division. It’s a very innovative team, focused on quality and with an extensive network of partners internationally, the business has access to some incredible genetics.


Kylie Balmain

Balmain Consulting Pty Ltd

0411 850 656

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