University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum

Botanic Garden Curator and Head of Horticulture

Oxford, Oxfordshire
£32,236 - £39,609 per annum
25 Jul 2019
25 Aug 2019
Full Time
Contract Type

About the University of Oxford

Welcome to the University of Oxford. We aim to lead the world in research and education for the benefit of society both in the UK and globally. Oxford’s researchers engage with academic, commercial and cultural partners across the world to stimulate high-quality research and enable innovation through a broad range of social, policy and economic impacts.

The Role

The Botanic Garden Curator and Head of Horticulture (BGCHH) will be responsible for the day-to-day management and development of the Botanic Garden. The BGCHH will play a key role in delivering the vision and strategic plan for OBGA as set by the Director, specifically implementing the collections strategy and designing and producing inspiring horticultural displays. The BGCHH will be a member of the OBGA general management team and work closely with the Deputy Director and the Director to realise the vision for the Botanic Garden. The BGCHH is directly responsible to the Director and will line manage the Glasshouse Curator (GC) and lead a team of botanical horticulturalists (currently 6), two apprentices and volunteers.


1. Maintenance and curation of the plant collections at the Botanic Garden

The BGCHH will be responsible for maintaining the plants (trees, shrubs and herbaceous) in the different areas of the Botanic Garden, including the walled garden, lower garden, and the glasshouses (working closely with the GC). This work will include designing creative new plantings and displays linked to OBGA’s strategic objectives to bring science to the Garden, and to make OBG a top visitor attraction in Oxford. The BGCHH will ensure the highest standards of horticulture and when necessary carry out practical hands-on work alongside other members of staff; the post is therefore not exclusively office-based.

The BGCHH will also have the following curatorial responsibilities:

  • Managing plant records maintained in the BRAHMS Database and coordinating associated activities (e.g. collections audits, compiling plant lists on request).
  • Ensuring accurate and comprehensive labelling of the collections.
  • Coordinating and conducting verification of the collections.
  • Researching, sourcing and cultivating new taxa for the collections, as identified by the Director and/or Deputy Director.

The BGCHH will be responsible for plant health and biosecurity at the Garden and ensuring that the collections are compliant with the requisites of the Nagoya Protocol. The BGCHH will undertake and promote best practice following local, national and international legislation and guidelines e.g. CITES, CBD, GSPC, Plant Health & Biosecurity etc. 

Together with the Departmental Administrator, the BGCHH will be responsible for managing the annual budget for the Botanic Garden.

2. Management of Botanic Garden staff

The BGCHH will line manage the Glasshouse Curator, and a team of botanical horticulturalists and apprentices.

The BGCHH will performance-manage all reports on an ongoing basis to develop a high-performing, collaborative team culture. Duties will also include training, and recruitment and induction where necessary.

The BGCHH will be responsible for volunteers working in the Garden and will be expected to spend time working alongside both staff and volunteers providing supervision, support, instruction and training.

Reporting to the Director, The BGCHH will be responsible for planning and prioritising work programmes in the Botanic Garden in line with the OBGA strategy.

3. Management of the Botanic Garden site

The BGCHH will work with the Director, Deputy Director and GC to develop annual work plans and formulate work schedules for the Botanic Garden team to deliver against OBGA’s strategic objectives.

Working closely with the Departmental Administrator, the BGCHH is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Botanic Garden and is the local safety officer, reporting to the Departmental Safety Officer (DSO) and Director, and will be the first point of call on the Botanic Garden security rota.

As local safety officer the BGCHH will directly advise the Departmental Safety Officer and assume responsibility for maintaining health and safety records for the Botanic Garden collections, including:

  • Conducting, reviewing and updating risk assessments and COSHH Assessments.
  • Formulating emergency procedures, as appropriate.
  • Producing local Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for equipment and machinery.
  • Producing and maintaining service and inspection records for equipment and machinery.
  • Conducting regular inventories of herbicides and pesticides, and coordinating the disposal of hazardous wastes.

The BGCHH will also coordinate and supervise training for Botanic Garden staff on the safe use of equipment and machinery and report any potential hazards to the Director or DSO. This will involve supervising staff training in, for example, working from height, inspection of equipment and machinery, storage and application of herbicides/ pesticides, and correct use of PPE.

The BGCHH will contribute to development plans for improvements to infrastructure, facilities and services at the Botanic Garden. This will involve consulting and liaising with staff, University departments, external organisations and contractors during planning and implementation.

4. Education and research

The BGCHH will deliver elements of the OBGA Public Education Programme (PEP), such as guided tours for adults and students, talks/lectures, and run occasional practical courses on horticulture and garden design.

The BGCHH will work closely with the Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum (FOBGA) to deliver Friends-related activities.

The BGCHH will assist the Director and Deputy Director in the use of the Garden for undergraduate teaching and research and assist them in the development of research projects linked to the Botanic Garden’s collections.

The BGCHH will work with the Deputy Director and design consultants to deliver interpretation of the plant collections.

The BGCHH will work closely with the Director and Deputy Director to deliver OBGA’s strategic aims in research and conservation and to raise its profile in research and conservation through liaison with and participation in relevant groups and networks.

5. Contributing to the wider work of the Department

As a member of the general management team of the Department, the BGCHH will be expected to be an active participant in scheduled and ad hoc Departmental meetings.

The BGCHH will work closely with the Curator of the Arboretum to foster collaborative cross-site working practices between the Garden and Arboretum and help develop and maintain engaging horticultural displays and landscapes at the Arboretum.

The BGCHH will coordinate and manage the education and training of the Department’s horticultural apprentices (currently two per year).

The BGCHH will produce written materials for the Friends’ newsletter, OBGA website, annual report, and internal and external publications.

The BGCHH will contribute information for written fundraising proposals and when appropriate meet and engage with existing and potential donors.

The BGCHH will work closely with the Director to raise the profile of the Botanic Garden nationally and internationally by attending meetings/conferences and through collaboration with other Botanic Gardens and outside botanical organizations.

Please refer to the application pack attached for a full description of the responsibilities and details of this role.

Click 'Apply' to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.

Closing Date: 25/08/2019

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