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Director of Garden

Position Title: Director of Garden

Supervisor: Director of Dumbarton Oaks

Department: Garden and Grounds

Grade: 59, exempt

Hours: Full-time, 40 hours per week (onsite presence required during garden working hours)      



Dumbarton Oaks is a research institute, museum, and historic garden affiliated with Harvard University and located in Washington, D.C. The Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Garden is responsible for managing and overseeing the care of this 16-acre historic property, including a ten-acre garden of international significance for which the initial design was developed in the 1920s by Beatrix Farrand in collaboration with Mildred Bliss. The overall garden includes terraces and lawns, nine fountains and ornamental pools, many stone and wood structures, a pebble garden, rose garden, herbaceous borders, a swimming pool, Orangery, and a greenhouse complex. The Director will lead all aspects of garden planning and maintenance, working to preserve the original Mildred Bliss/Beatrix Farrand concept, while actively engaging with Dumbarton Oaks’ scholarly communities and the public.

We are seeking an individual with proven leadership and supervisory experience in managing a garden team, and knowledge of historic garden preservation and curation of historic collections. Successful candidates will also be familiar with new protocols for sustainability and storm water management and an understanding of environmental challenges, as well as a genuine interest in interacting with our research community.


Duties & Responsibilities

  • Leads all phases of garden maintenance including regular care, planting and purchases, and preservation of architectural elements. Seeks out and incorporates technical advice from specialists such as arborists, landscape architects, conservators, and garden historians.
  • Develops and administers the budget for the Department of Garden and Grounds.
  • Works with garden crew leaders to monitor plant health and respond in compliance with accepted IPM practices and District of Columbia and Federal laws.
  • Collaborates with the Director of Facilities on capital projects including storm water management, structural condition surveys, ADA/accessibility questions, etc.
  • Advises on horticultural and landscape architectural components of renovation and construction projects at Dumbarton Oaks.
  • Coordinates operations (e.g. emergency planning) with other Dumbarton Oaks departments including Security, Publications, the Library, the Museum, and Administration, as needed.
  • Leads projects supported by outside donors including initial proposals, budgeting, implementation, and donor communications.
  • Collaborates with the Director of Garden and Landscape Studies on the selection, design, and implementation of temporary art installations in the Gardens.
  • Participates in scholarly programming and projects related to the Dumbarton Oaks Garden, including the curation of archival and visual materials related to their design; contributes to the curation of related exhibits.
  • Acts as a primary communicator of the historic significance of the Garden in dialogue with various internal and external communities, including residential fellows and external attendees of scholarly and public events; collaborates with other departments on educational and outreach activities and programs focused on the Garden.
  • Oversees/offers training for interns, docents, and volunteers as needed.
  • Performs related duties as assigned.

Supervisory Responsibilities

  • Hires and supervises permanent garden staff as well as seasonal staff and interns. Trains and counsels garden staff in proper horticultural techniques and safe use of equipment, tools, chemicals and other materials. Conducts probationary and annual evaluations of all garden staff.
  • Selects contractors and oversees their work, including maintenance, repair and restoration of grounds-related outbuildings, garden sculpture, brick-, iron-, and stonework, pools and fountains.


Basic Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in plant science, landscape architecture, or related field is required.
  • Ten or more years of gardening and grounds management experience with extensive knowledge of plant materials, propagation and cultivation.
  • Knowledge of IPM techniques.
  • Experience in budget administration and facilities operations.

Additional Qualifications

  • Master’s degree or higher is preferred.
  • Strong oral and written communication and interpersonal skills. Spanish language skills an advantage.
  • Ability to obtain D.C. Certified Pesticide Applicator’s license.

Physical requirements

Must be able to perform the duties of the position, including but not limited to; walking to inspect the ten-acre Garden area and oversee personnel; stand for long periods of time; lift and carry up to 50 pounds when needed.


To Apply

This position is open until filled. Qualified candidates should submit a resume and cover letter by applying at the link below:


Dumbarton Oaks is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).