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Director of Horticulture
Category: Manager

San Diego Botanic Garden
Encinitas, CA

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013


Position Description

Director of Horticulture


San Diego Botanic Garden, formerly known as Quail Botanical Gardens, is a 37.5 acre public garden located in Encinitas, with views of the Pacific Ocean and a virtually frost-free climate. Quail Botanical Gardens Foundation is a 501c (3) nonprofit organization that manages the San Diego Botanic Garden on long term leases from the County of San Diego and the City of Encinitas. It has an annual operating budget of two million dollars and a staff of 34 full and part-time employees. The Garden has a growing number of annual visitors which last year was just under 200K.


The San Diego Botanic Garden boasts several major botanical collections comprised of bamboos, palms, aloes, agaves, and other subtropical species. Notable gardens include the Undersea Succulent Garden, Hamilton Children’s Garden, tropical gardens, desert gardens, various phyto-geographical gardens including Mediterranean climate gardens, and the Bamboo Garden, which contains the most diverse collection of bamboo in all of the nation’s public gardens. Rare southern maritime chaparral, with its in situ federally endangered Del Mar Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. crassifolia), is the major plant community of the Garden’s natural areas.


Conservation is a major commitment of the Garden. To increase our commitment to native plant conservation, San Diego Botanic Garden joined the Center for Plant Conservation, a national conservation organization whose mission is to conserve and restore the rare native plants of the United States. SDBG is also applying for North American Plant Collections Consortium membership with taxa of bamboo, Erythrina and Ficus.


 In 2009, San Diego Botanic Garden added the largest interactive children’s garden on the West Coast, the Hamilton Children’s Garden. In addition, the Garden has launched the beginning stages of fundraising and design for the new “Education and Events Pavilion” to be located next to the Hamilton Children’s Garden. This state-of-art new building will be utilized for education classes, events, weddings and more. It will be a conservatory-like structure with a significant collection and display of tropical plants. The SDBG Director of Horticulture will be expected to be a key member of the team that will further refine the design and implementation of this new facility.


Most recently the Garden was presented with a challenge grant gift of approximately 12 adjacent acres with ocean views for the realization of its master plan. While this offer has only recently been made, it is particularly energizing as few public gardens have an opportunity for expansion particularly in coastal Southern California. The candidate selected for the Director of Horticulture position will need to have skills important as a key member of the team that will guide the process of acquiring and occupying the new land. 


The Director of Horticulture should have excellent interpersonal skills, proven leadership qualities and supervisory ability. This person must also have a passion for public horticulture and be capable of maximizing the unique plant collection and display capacity given the Gardens’ unique climate.



Job Summary

The Director of Horticulture will direct and coordinate all horticultural activities and functions with overall responsibility for developing and managing collections, landscapes, displays, and nurseries. The Director of Horticulture will maintain high horticultural standards and practices providing direction, training and motivation for horticultural staff, interns and volunteers. The current number of staff under supervision is 11 full time employees. The Director of Horticulture will report directly to the President and CEO.


Primary Responsibilities

  1. Guide the development and management of collections, landscapes, garden displays, and nurseries.
  2. Direct the design, installation, and horticultural maintenance of gardens and landscapes.
  3. Manage plant propagation, plant records, collection mapping, and record labeling.
  4. Ensure that SDBG plant collections and transactions are compliant with state, federal, and international legislation.
  5. Oversee botanical interpretive labeling in displays and landscapes.
  6. Manage insect and pest control programs. Ensures that SDBG is compliant with local, state, and federal legislation.
  7. Manage horticultural tools and supplies, inventory, maintenance, proper usage, and safety.
  8. Supervise and train horticulture staff and volunteers.
  9. Schedules work for Horticulture staff. Provides clear and concise staff evaluations.
  10. Manage plant sales at the gift shop, plant purchases, sales, maintenance, and the plant sales nursery.
  11. Demonstrate a continued interest and advancement in public horticulture and network with other public gardens.
  12. Oversee facility and maintenance department, including building and grounds operations, staff, and financial budgets.
  13. Develop and implements departmental financial budgets.
  14. Serve as a member of the SDBG senior management team. Coordinate programs, events and activities with Executive Director, Operations Manager, Education staff, and additional personnel as needed.
  15. Assist Development Team with funding requests and managing grant funds.
  16. Provide research and information on plants, botany, and horticulture to the public, media, staff, and volunteers. Give tours and presentations. Writes articles for SDBG publications.
  17. Participate in professional organizations as a representative of SDBG.
  18. Assist with the production and management of special events.
  19. Available on weekends, holidays, and overtime as needed.
  20. Perform additional duties and/or assume additional responsibilities as delegated by the SDBG President/CEO.




This position requires a dedication to the mission of the San Diego Botanic Garden, “to inspire people of all ages to connect with plants and nature”. Must have a broad  knowledge of plants and their culture with an emphasis on taxa suitable for southern coastal California. Must demonstrate a continued interest and advancement in public horticulture and network with other public gardens. Must have strong management skills and at least 5 years experience in management of people and public gardens. Must have the ability to engage with a wide variety of stakeholders, including donors, public officials, contracted management team and designers. Must have strong design skills. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in horticulture or closely allied field is required with preference for an advanced degree. Must be well organized, be a team player with good interpersonal skills, and work well with other staff and volunteers. Must have good written and oral communication skills. Must be willing to perform a wide variety of tasks. Must have the ability to lift and carry a minimum of 30 lbs. Must have a California driver’s license.


To Apply

Please submit your cover letter, resume, and salary requirements to  Only those whose applications are being considered will be contacted.  No phone calls please. References will be required.  Start date September 2013.


The San Diego Botanic Garden is an equal opportunity employer and considers applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected status.

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