Director of Horticulture and Garden Education

Position Description: Director of Horticulture & Garden Education at the Jay Estate 

The Historic Gardens at the Jay Estate in Rye, New York, are part of a larger 23-acre park
operated by the nonprofit Jay Heritage Center (JHC). The Jay Estate is the childhood home of
American Founding Father, jurist, anti-slavery advocate, and peacemaker John Jay and is a
National Historic Landmark site. It is also a significant site on the African American Heritage Trail
and was the home of enslaved and freed women, men, and their families, whose narratives are
also expressed in the landscape. Today, the property which once belonged to the Munsee
Lenape and is considered an active and significant archaeological site has three owners: JHC,
New York State Parks and Westchester County Parks, who work together collaboratively.
With the direction of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), Phase I of a design to
reimagine and rehabilitate almost three acres of formal and functional gardens was first begun in June 2020.

The resulting garden rooms activated new inclusive and accessible public programs and experiences at JHC
and facilitate its growth as a vibrant educational campus.

Job Description
The Director of Horticulture (Hort Director) is responsible for ongoing maintenance,
establishment, and review of a diverse group of plants, including trees, shrubs, grasses, annuals,
and perennials, along with other garden hardscape components and infrastructure systems.
Utilizing best industry management practices, this individual will be responsible for developing a
custom schedule of protocols. The Hort Director will also represent JHC at Lower Hudson
Partnership for Invasive Species (LHPRISM) meetings to stay current about local challenges to
biodiversity and available solutions to protecting ecosystems.

The ideal candidate has experience and interest in sharing their knowledge with the public and
will be expected to help create and organize unique horticultural programs related to the
cultural and natural significance of the site. The Hort Director is expected to host ongoing
classes to identify native and invasive species for a diverse audience of families and visitors.
Experience working with youth and volunteers is preferred.

Primary tasks include:

1. Garden Management:

  • Building upon the NBW design and existing Maintenance Manual,
    establish goals, priorities, and strategy in preparation for opening of the Jay Gardens. Work with
    JHC Board and Executive Director to create an annual budget and schedule of tasks based on those
    goals. Participate in staff meetings. Represent JHC onsite and at offsite conferences and programs.

2. Implement Horticulture Operations, Coordinate with Contractors and Volunteers:

  • Monitor designed plantings for optimal health and performance. Prune,
    fertilize, and groom annual and perennial plants, shrubs, and trees as
    needed. If concerns are identified, submit appropriate documentation, and
    coordinate with JHC and contractor for prompt correction or replacement.
  • Take the lead planting select annuals and vegetables for 16 raised beds.
  • Monitor soil drainage and nutrient levels. Establish management plans and
    appropriate responses to any concerns.
  • Ensure Hydrawise irrigation system promotes viability of all plantings.
    Adjust zone controls as needed based on observations. Work with assigned
    irrigation contractors for startup and winterization.
  • Maintain overall landscape design intent including preparing soil and
    planting annual beds, grading, re-sodding when necessary, seeding,
    mulching, weeding, mowing, and trimming of grass edges either alone or
    with the help of contractors and/or volunteers.
  • Monitor and treat plant and tree health problems, including spraying for
    insects, fungus, and diseases.
  • Supervise volunteers in gardening techniques, identification and removal of
    invasive species and proper use and care of materials and equipment.
  • Ensure that all vehicles, tools, materials, equipment, and other resources
    are appropriate for the site and used safely, effectively, and efficiently.
    Coordinate storage of equipment and other resources as required.
  • Perform various tasks in connection with cleaning of grounds and painting
    of fixtures and equipment as required.

3. Schedule Garden Programs and Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Create a calendar of inclusive seasonal educational garden events and tasks for the public
    that help illustrate the rich culture and heritage of both the natural and manmade landscape.

4. Sustainable Best Practices:

  • Actively promote and develop environmentally friendly and sustainable management practices, consistent
    with the overall goals of the organization.
  • Ensure that sustainable practices are implemented that limit
    the use of de-icing salts for snow removal that may harm plant and soil viability.

5. Promote Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles when possible.

This position requires a minimum of five years of horticultural experience and/or schooling with
a minimum of four years in a hands-on, supervisory capacity OR experience as a Certified
Horticulturalist, ISA Certified Arborist, or Certified Nursery Landscape Professional.

A valid NYS pesticide applicator’s license and U.S. driver’s license is preferred.

Ability to perform strenuous physical tasks, including lifting 40lbs.

A B.A./B.S. degree in horticulture or related field preferred.

Experience in creating and implementing educational programs and activities preferred.

Candidate must have excellent leadership, communication (both verbal and written in English),
interpersonal, project management, development, technical and analytical skills; must be
capable of working additional hours, under pressure and independently, as well as handling a
diverse range of responsibilities.

Must work as a team player maintaining positive work relations
with contractors, staff, and volunteers; must have a knowledge of operations for all tools,
vehicles, and equipment required for use by contractors.

Must be able to interact with management and staff.

Must have good computer skills (Microsoft Word/Excel preferred).
Ideally familiar with iNaturalist and iMapInvasives apps.