Born in the Western District of Victoria, Richard completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Horticulture) at Burnley College (University of Melbourne) in 1991. He was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 1999 for the study of landscape management, and in 2013 he was awarded ‘Person of the Year’ by the Toronto Garden Tourism Council for International Garden Tourism.
Richard Barley pursued various roles in the agriculture sector before joining the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne in 1980. He then took on responsibility for the provision of guidance to the state of Victoria’s many regional botanic gardens. From 1992 he moved into the role of manager and then director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, where he oversaw the development of significant plant collections and conservation programs, leading-edge water management, renovation of historic features and the delivery of outstanding education activities. He held this position until 2010, when he was appointed CEO of Open Gardens Australia, overseeing the opening for public visitation of around 600 gardens per year across Australia, together with other garden-themed events.
In 2013 he moved to the UK to take up the new position of Director of Horticulture for The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew with responsibility for overseeing the management of Kew’s botanic garden and arboretum, display glasshouses, nurseries and the School of Horticulture. His role was expanded in 2015 to include Kew’s Learning and Participation, and Visitor Operations activities. Richard has had responsibility for various improvement projects at Kew since arriving, including the major restoration of the Temperate House, development of the Great Broad Walk Borders, the Children’s Garden and the Agius Evolution Garden (both opened in 2019). In 2019 he was also appointed to the Board of Trustees for the UK’s National Garden Scheme.
- Convenor of the Scientific and Collections Committee of the Garden Plant Conservation Assoc. of Australia, Inc.
- Committee member (and past Convenor), Botanic Gardens Australia & New Zealand (BGANZ) Victoria.
- Associate Lecturer, University of Melbourne, Consulting & Custom Programs
- Patron of the Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens, Inc
- Garden Masterpieces of Italy & England and the Chelsea Flower Show (2014)
- Landscapes and Gardens of Northern California: Creating a Style (2012)