Wonderful workplaces in horticulture: Longwood Gardens

WWP Longwood

Want to be immersed in the business of public horticulture? In a series of interviews on Horticulture Week we spoke to Dr Tamara Fleming, director of the Longwood Gardens Fellows Program, and two fellows who completed the programme last year, about their highlights, top career tips and what they think makes a wonderful workplace.

Longwood GardensKaslin Daniels: "Working in and contributing to a place where people seek beauty and retreat is a privilege."


A summary of the interviews are below and you can read them in full on Horticulture Week by clicking here.

Dr Fleming, Can you tell us a bit more about the Longwood Gardens Fellows Program and how it works?

Put simply, it’s a leader development programme for ‘plant people'. It's a 13-month residential working and learning experience designed to further develop and refine high-potential individuals' leadership skills. It’s tuition-free and offers a monthly stipend, housing, pragmatic and individualised leader development opportunities, and immersion into the business of public horticulture. It really is a unique opportunity in our industry.

What do you offer that no one else does?

We teach the disciplines of leadership, organisational behaviour, and non-profit governance in the very specific context of public horticulture. The content includes leading edge social science research matched with pragmatic experiences that leaders need to be effective in our industry.

What top tips would you offer those looking to embark on a leadership career in horticulture?

If you have a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience, you should apply for the fellows programme! You should always follow your passions too and be the absolute best at whatever you choose.


Watch this video to get a flavour of what it's like to undertake the Longwood Gardens Fellows Program


Patrick MacRae, now director of public programs and education at The Garden Conservancy, and Kaslin Daniels, assistant director of operations at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, both completed the Longwood Gardens Fellows Program last year.

Why did you decide to join the Longwood Gardens Fellows Program over any other?

Patrick MacRae: The Fellows Program was a perfect complement to my existing skill set. I was attracted to the programme’s explicit focus on leadership skills development. Many people find themselves in leadership positions without having a background knowledge of leadership theory. I think taking a year to learn about myself as a leader and to hone my abilities will be invaluable as I move forward in my career.

Kaslin Daniels: I reached a point in my horticulture career where I was looking to advance to a leadership position in order to make an impact on the lives of city dwellers, my main aspiration being to bridge the botanical richness of gardens with the democratic and inclusive practices of urban parks. 

Looking back, what would you say were the highlights?

PM: The opportunity to develop an extensive network of supportive mentors, advisors and peers within the public garden field was one of the most rewarding and longstanding benefits of the fellows program. 

KD: One of the unique aspects of the Longwood Fellows Program is the enriching relationship building that occurs. As fellows, we are assigned a mentor who guides and provides insight throughout the programme; we are offered numerous networking opportunities to connect us with other leaders in the field; and we live, work, and travel with the other fellows in the cohort. 

What makes Longwood a special place to work?

PM: Longwood Gardens has a very special - and very strong - organisational culture. As a fellow, I was welcomed into a supportive family of people who care deeply about our mission and are passionate about our role as a leader in the industry. 

KD: Longwood Gardens is an exceptional place to work for many reasons. It goes without saying that working in and contributing to a place where people seek beauty and retreat is a privilege. 

How would you describe a ‘wonderful workplace’?

PM: A wonderful workplace is one in which a diverse network of colleagues with different perspectives and expertise come together around a shared set of values and a common mission. It is possible to achieve excellence when your team of colleagues is committed to building and sustaining impact.

KD: To me, a wonderful workplace is one where a diverse group of people work in harmony with each other to serve the organisation's mission; where staff and volunteers are empowered and feel they are serving a greater purpose; and where learning and development occurs at all levels in order to grow and effect positive change both in and outside of the organisation.

What top tips would you offer those looking to embark on a career in horticulture or join the fellows programme?

PM: Horticulture is extremely rewarding. I no longer work day-to-day with plants, but I am still deeply moved by the power of gardens, and I am in a fortunate position to be able to share my love of gardening with a national audience. I encourage people with an interest in horticulture to think about the impact that they want to make, and then chart a course to make that happen. 

KD: Start by asking yourself, "why?" Let your cause propel you.

Read the interviews in full on Horticulture Week: Horticulture leaders in the making.

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