Public Horticulture, Public Gardens


Public Horticulture
The display of plants for the enjoyment of the public, with or without interpretive signage, characterizes a great range of landscapes that are open to public view. Prominent among such sites are theme parks (think of the Disney parks, Sea World, Marineland, Universal Studios, etc.), zoos, hotel grounds, school and university campuses, city parks and recreation areas, airports and convention centers, shopping malls, and tourist attractions of all kinds.

Horticulturists play a role in selecting plants and, with landscape designers, choose their placement (and replacement), manage their nutrition, irrigation, pests and diseases, pruning, and procure and manage plants for seasonal purposes. Plants contribute to managing pollution and climate change though their selection, use and positioning in the urban landscape. Special challenges can come up, such as new trends for green roofs and walls, disguising transit lines, massive concepts such as Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay development or Dubai’s new gardens.

Public Gardens
Traditionally, public gardens include botanical gardens and arboretums, but the definition can extend beyond these limits. Botanical gardens and arboreta have a mission in that they collect and display plants, sometimes opting for horticultural displays that draw in the paying public, and sometimes focusing on conservation, native plant germplasm, and collections of particular plant groups. Besides outdoor collections, many botanical gardens will have a conservatory for tender, non-native plants.

The organization of such gardens requires a director, various assistants, financial managements, record-keeping, research, education and interpretation, and public relations, to name a few. Knowledge of taxonomy, propagation, arboriculture, horticultural operations, volunteer coordination, fund-raising, and numerous other skills offer broad opportunities to careers in public gardens. Some gardens receive support from municipal governments while others charge admission and conduct extensive fund-raising programs.

Turf Management
Although golf courses are often considered the epitome of managed turf, there are many variations of sports turf that require a trained expert’s knowledge. Whether the site be a city park, high school or collegiate football field, a professional football or baseball stadium, management requires the knowledge of what grass to select, how to feed and irrigate it, control measures for pests and diseases, repairs to overused fields, and, of course, what its mowing needs are for the uses to be made of it. Turf is also a feature of public grounds (parks, municipal buildings, cemeteries) and commercial settings as diverse as hotels and corporate headquarters. Production of turf, either as sod, stolons, or by seed, is still another aspect of the opportunities in turf grass management.

Careers in Public Horticulture

Administration, Leadership and ManagementHorticulture and Arboriculture
Executive Director Development DirectorDirector of Horticulture
Membership CoordinatorHorticulturist
Volunteer CoordinatorLandscape Designer
Financial OfficerGrounds Supervisor
Fund-raisingMaintenance Supervisor
Public RelationsGreenhouse and Conservatory Manager
Integrated Pest Management Specialist
Education and InterpretationUrban Forester
Director of EducationArborist
Outreach CoordinatorGolf Course services
Adult Education Youth, Student and University ProgramsSports Turf Manager
Children’s Education Interpretation & SignsSod and grass seed production
Visitor ServicesIrrigation Specialist
Park Services Manager
Plant Collections
Taxonomist, Curator of Plant Collections, ConservationParks & Recreation Facilities Manager

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