Barbara Dobbins Davies

Professional Experience


Horticultural Consultant/Journalist/Photographer
Owner/Director, Flora Bella (Overseas) Ltd., Cyprus

Consulting for project under development: Eastern Mediterranean seed bank and demonstration garden to preserve and display native plants. The project will provide growing display and education regarding practical and sustainable uses for native flora in Cyprus (2005-07).

Researching, writing, and illustrating articles on contemporary and historic horticultural, gastronomic, ritual/spiritual and medicinal uses of endemic and introduced Eastern Mediterranean plants for publication in US, British, Frencg, Greek and Cypriot magazines and newspapers.

Teaching courses and presenting illustrated lectures on planning, design, construction and maintenance of drought resistant and aquatic gardens.

Lecturing on the importance of establishing National Collections, based upon the French and British national collection schemes.


Administratrice/Secretaire de Compagnie, les Etablissements Botaniques Latour-Marliac S.A.S. (Est. 1875), (a subsidiary of Stapeley Water Gardens Ltd., UK), le Temple-sur-Lot, France

Facilitated the restoration and redevelopment of this historic five-acre aquatic plant and bamboo nursery, and the pleasure gardens.

Increased sales, visitor numbers and visit durations through creation of multi-lingual site guides and promotional campaigns.

Developed programs for French elementary school students based on European Union biology and history curriculum requirements.

Established museum, art gallery and seminar facilities, and liaison programs with local, national and international governmental and private sector organizations.

Established and curated the French National Collection of Aquatic Plants congruent with the Societé National d'Horticulture de France (SNHF).

Certified periodic and annual company accounts in coordination with consulting accountant and auditor.

1988 to 1999
Director, Marketing and Public Relations/Horticultural Consultant, Stapeley Water Gardens Ltd., Stapeley, nr. Nantwich, Cheshire, U.K.

Introduced innovative American sustainable and environmentally sensitive horticultural techniques and materials, ie, Integrated Pest Management (IPM); soil, water and plant bio-treatments; companion planting; on-site composting. Resulting reductions in labor and material costs and elimination of after-treatment restrictions on facility use led to our recruitment by Royal Botanic Garden at Kew to train their tropical greenhouse staff in IPM.

Established and managed budgets for marketing and promotions, public relations and charitable funding.

Participated in and coordinated interdepartmental periodic and annual comparative budget reviews and projections for staff performance, seasonal trends and targeted public relations activities.

Revamped and updated fire, safety, and security programs and staff training and certification, for staff of 250, including National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) certification.

Revised and maximized advertising and promotions for all sales including on-site admissions and products as well as mail order sales.

Developed and administered focused semiannual visitor surveys liaising with local college statistics course students and instructors to target facility, service and product improvement projections (1990-97).

Established and co-curated two UK National Collections of Nymphaea, congruent with the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG) at Stapeley Water Gardens, Cheshire and Burnby Hall Gardens, Yorkshire.

Expanded, re-organized and copyrighted the photographic and graphic library of several thousand images of gardens and landscapes from around the world. The images are now available for fee-based use by international publishers.

Increased public awareness of and participation in Stapeley Water Gardens' wide range of services, products and public outreach and educational programs by:

Extensive development and participation in local, national and international environmental campaigns.

Participation in annual creation of award winning garden displays at Royal Horticultural Society's Chelsea Flower Show, eliciting Royal previews.

Recruiting and hosting local and national magazine, television and radio productions using on-site facilities, materials and expertise.

Writing articles, books, critical reviews, video scripts, tourist guides and editing books and articles on a wide range of gardening topics.

Creating and presenting illustrated lectures for horticultural, civic and charitable groups throughout the UK.

Mentoring managers and other staff in journalism and public outreach activities.

Soliciting extensive product, promotional and financial donations and sponsorship from suppliers.

Maximizing use of facilities during off hours with special events, banquets and community activities.

Developing and coordinating luxury bed and breakfast accommodation in adjacent 1916 manor house (personal home).

Overseeing refurbishment, expansion and maintenance of several existing display and demonstration gardens to engage people with special needs, and to showcase innovative garden supplies and techniques.

Instigating and coordinating weekly and seasonal public education programs, competitions and exhibitions.

Created position for, recruited and mentored an Education Officer to maximize public and student interaction with living collections, to manage exhibits and creatures and to improve impact of exhibits and collections. Over 53,000 school children have used the resulting innovative study packages that satisfy the British Key Stage educational standards for biology and geography.

Provided technical and design consultation, plants and planting, and botanical and site survey and analysis services internationally, ie:

  1. Lady Susanna Walton's gardens at La Mortella, Ischia, Italy (1993-2005);
  2. Herdad do Azinhal, nr. Evora, Portugal (1996-97);
  3. P. Goulandris family country estate, Little Bear, near Slough, Berkshire, UK (1996);
  4. Kuopio Natural History Museum, Finland (Dr. Maati Haapasaari, Director), Department of Limnology, University of Uppsala, Sweden (Dr. Maud Wallsten), International Waterlily Society (Dr. Edward Schneider/Dr. Paula Williamson) cooperative research expedition, Sweden and Finland (7/1994);
  5. New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), in cooperation with the Forest Research Institute (12/1991).
1980s and earlier
Owner/Director, Santa Barbara Water Gardens and Landscapes / Barbara Dobbins Landscapes, Santa Barbara, California, USA.

Established and expanded Santa Barbara's first specialist residential and commercial water garden design, construction, repair and maintenance service, with staff of 14.

Served on the Santa Barbara Street Tree Committee, advisory committee to Santa Barbara City Parks and Recreation Department (1984-87).

Maintained water features within Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden as a gift to the City of Santa Barbara (1981-83).

Taught specialist horticulture and landscape courses for Santa Barbara Community College Continuing Education Division (1984-86) and Santa Barbara City College Environmental Horticulture Department (1987).

Recruited as consultant for Ortho Books' Garden Pools and Fountains (Chevron Chemical Company, 1988).

Presented illustrated lectures on water garden history, design, construction and maintenance to local and international horticultural and civic groups.

Contributing writer to the Santa Barbara News Press garden column (1980-87).

Executive Assistant to the President, the littlestone company / Famous Restaurants, Santa Barbara, California, USA. 9/1979-7/1980.

Created project schedules and supply inventories, solicited and reviewed construction bids, monitored supply usage and ran cost analysis, trouble-shot as roving business manager for a multifaceted development company.

Office Manager, Isabelle C. Greene and Associates, Landscape Architects, Santa Barbara, California USA. 5/1979-11/1979.

Drafted plans for presentation; maintained design reference and client files and all business bookkeeping; fieldwork.

Instructor, Children's Creative Project, Yanonali Gardens, Santa Barbara, California USA. 3-5/1979.

Instructed youth gardening class, developing elementary school children's skills in math, direct observation drawing, ecological awareness and responsible participation using individual organic garden plots as focus of exercises.

Ranch Manager, Laurel Springs Ranch, Painted Cave, Santa Barbara, California USA. 2/1976-10/1978.

For owners Cass Warner, and then Jane Fonda: Managed the efficient operation of 120 acre ranch used as seminar center, children's summer camp and appropriate technology development site. Performed all bookkeeping, oversaw construction crews (installation of 30 acre irrigation system, wind tower, solar collectors, septic systems, road surfacing), remodeled and maintained six-structure facility, fit commercial kitchen, taught farming and gardening classes to summer camp and seminar participants, researched and selected landscape plants suited to the chaparral environment for 30 acres of drought-tolerant landscaped grounds, assured fire safety through brush clearance activities and management of community fire patrol program.

Curatorial Trainee, Maxwell Galleries, Ltd., San Francisco, California USA. 4-9/1975.

Improved and maintained photographic, provenance and reference libraries for a commercial art gallery (liaison position through the University of California).

Was awarded 'Selection/Outstanding Graphic Representation' by the Craft Press competition, 1976 for a series of photographs featured in Art in America magazine, 11/1975.

Docent, Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, California USA. 1971-75.
Assistant Instructor, Oak Park facility, Head Start program, Sacramento, California USA. 1971.


Education / Certification

C27 Landscape Contractor's License No. 487826, California State License Board, 1986.

Certificate of Qualifications for Teachers of Classes for Adults No. CC292011 (lifetime certificate), California Community Colleges, 1983.

University of California, Davis. Bachelor of Arts degree (Art History/Plant Sciences), 1979.

Professional Affiliations

International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society (IWGS), 1984-present. Founding member. President 1997-99. Vice president 1995-97. Chairman, Honors and Awards Committee, 1995-1997: introduction of Royal Horticultural Society Banksian Medal award and Annual New Nymphaea Introductions Trial Competition, 1997-present. Symposium Committee member, organizing symposia in Southern California, France and twice in the United Kingdom, 1985-88 and 1993-96. European Treasurer (banking and bookkeeping for international membership fees, book sales, symposia registrations, European symposia accountancy, annual audit and tax filing), 1989-99. Committee member forming and launching the UK branch of the IWGS (1990). Prolific contributor to the Water Garden Journal.

Water Gardeners International (WGI), 2006-present. Founding member. Contributor to archives.

American Botanic Council (ABC)-USA, current member.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), institutional member 1990-2000.

Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)-UK, institutional member 1988-2000. Judging Committee, Aquatic Plants and Water Gardens division, RHS Hampton Court Garden Show, 1996.

National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG)-UK, institutional member 1988-2000. National Collection curator, journal contributor, regional conference coordinator.

British Bromeliad Society-UK, member 1990-98. Provide meeting facilities, posting services, permanent display and maintenance of the Society's National Collection of Bromeliads.

Relevant Skills

Languages: English, French, Computer literate.

Avocations: USPS Boating Courses leading to Small Craft International Captains License No. 00916, exp. 6/4/2022.

Certified Massage Therapist, through the Healing Arts Institute, California, 2006.

Yoga practitioner (since 1966) and Therapeutic Yoga Instructor (2004-07).

Extensive world travel has allowed me to weave an international web of horticultural/botanical professional friends. The visceral experience of diverse climates, soil pH and structures, and plant adaptation peculiarities informs my landscape-horticultural research, consultation, design and writing

NB: References and expanded curriculum vitae available upon request.