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Head of Horticulture

National Botanic Garden of Wales
Llanarthney, Carmarthen
Closing date
23 Dec 2023

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Contract Type
Full Time
Gardening Jobs
Horticultural Specialist
Senior Manager

Head of Horticulture

Job Description

Thank you very much for your interest in this appointment with the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

We live at a time of vast changes in society, science and technology, and we face major environmental challenges and ongoing losses of biodiversity. The National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW) is providing this unique opportunity to make an impact through horticulture in research, plant conservation and awareness raising about the importance of plants and nature.

As a modern Botanic Garden, the principles of biodiversity conservation and sustainability, as outlined in the Nagoya Protocol, Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), the Sustainable Development Goals and encapsulated in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), are key underlying principles for the organisation’s operations.

The NBGW is dedicated to the research and conservation of biodiversity, to sustainability, and lifelong learning. The institution is powerfully placed to integrate science across the whole organisation and fulfil its commitment to connect audiences with plants and our evidence-based research and collections. Equally NBGW can challenge how people think about biodiversity and regenerative agriculture – past, present and future. To deliver this commitment, the institution draws on its unique collections and estate including the botanic garden, Waun Las National Nature Reserve and organic farm, laboratory and seed banking facilities and pioneering programmes.

In its short history the Botanic Garden has created an important ex-situ collection of Mediterranean climate plants, conserved and protected some of the rarest and most threatened endemic Welsh plants, and is an Ambassador for Wales around the globe.

The role of the Head of Horticulture is central to the delivery of the Garden’s mission, and is an ambassador for the Garden within the botanical, horticultural, heritage and education disciplines. The Head of Horticulture will ensure the management and development of the Garden and its living collections are underpinned by high quality horticultural and nursery practices. The Garden needs to make clear links between plants, people, biodiversity and Welsh heritage. This role will strengthen and expand the institution’s reputation and ensure it is clearly articulated at a local, national and international level.

Following a change in institutional leadership, this is an exciting time to join the Garden as it embarks on implementing its ambitious Strategic Plan with the aim of extending its national and international profile, reach and capabilities.

The impact from your work will form an important part of positioning the National Botanic Garden of Wales into the future and contributing to the leading work within Wales and its role as a leading tourist attraction and centre of learning. We are looking for someone to oversee and manage the ongoing development and management of the Garden and provide strategic leadership, sound team management, exemplary partnership capability and contribute to the realisation of a compelling vision for the NBGW as an internationally -renowned centre for plants, biodiversity conservation and research. Your expertise and knowledge will be fitting for a national institution that has a long impactful collaboration with diverse partners.

We are looking for an ambitious, talented and committed horticultural leader who wants to play a vital role in the future of our agenda.

If that is you, we look forward to receiving your application.

Dr Lucy A. Sutherland

Director, National Botanic Garden of Wales

The National Botanic Garden of Wales

The National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW) is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity dedicated to research, conservation, sustainability, learning and the inspiration of our visitors and the wider community.

The NBGW is the first botanic garden in the United Kingdom to be recognised by Botanic Gardens Conservation International achieving all three levels of conservation accreditation, including Advanced Conservation Practitioner. It delivers world-class research, conservation, education and horticulture on behalf of Wales.

The 568-acre estate features diverse plant collections grown in a range of environments, including the Great Glasshouse, designed by Lord Forster and Associates, which contains an outstanding collection of Mediterranean climate plants. A series of themed areas exhibit the diversity of plants to visitors, including the native Welsh plants, Wallace, Boulder, and Apothecary collections. The historic double-walled garden contains a systematics collection, as well as a demonstration vegetable garden. The formal garden is encompassed by Waun Las National Nature Reserve. The Reserve is a diverse landscape including certified organic farmland, woodlands and historic designed parkland.

With around 100 staff, 200 volunteers and 10,500 members the National Botanic Garden of Wales is a vibrant passionate community of people dedicated to make an impact with everything we do.

The Role

There is an exciting opportunity to develop the title and scope of this important role around the skills and experience of a strong candidate.


Head of Horticulture


National Botanic Garden of Wales


Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, Wales


The salary for the Head of Horticulture role is around £40,000, the level of which will be dependent on capabilities and track record of proven skills.

Reporting Line

Reporting to Director, National Botanic Garden of Wales


Sits on the Senior Leadership Team and will be networked in to represent NBGW on national and international organisations. This position will be supported to create appropriate affiliations.


3 Direct reports and managing an overall team of around 22 people, several being bilingual; in addition, there is a dedicated volunteer team.

Key Relationships

Director; Senior Leadership Team; NBGW Board; botanic garden community; national and international partners; media; horticultural, conservation and relevant industry sectors.


Travel and fieldwork as required. Must be willing to travel as senior representative of the institution.

Work hours and pattern

NBGW has flexible working arrangements in place, The hours and pattern of work are generally expected to be 37.5 hours per week. The actual distribution of those hours and the specific days and times of work has flexibility and are arranged on any five days out of seven as required to support the role and the needs of the organisation. A reasonable number of additional hours, as well as some weekend, evening, and bank holiday working, is a necessary part of the role and receives compensatory time off in lieu.

Opportunities to participate in networking events and attending Continuing Professional Development days are an important part of the NBGW offering. These are subject to the incumbent securing funding.


Free Garden family membership or membership of choice

Death in service benefit of 3 times salary

50% discount in catering outlets and 10% discount in other outlets

Free work/life employee benefits assistance programme

Simply Health Benefit

Pension of 5% - contributory

Free parking

Cycle to work scheme



  • A qualified botanical/horticultural specialist qualified to degree or Master level, or equivalent professional expertise, demonstrated at senior-level in a similar capacity. Substantial knowledge and understanding of applying current best practice to developing amenity horticulture, horticultural collections and conservation techniques. Good knowledge of plant health and environmental issues. Understanding of operational risk and experience of relevant health & safety best practice including horticultural machinery/equipment and compliance.



  • Demonstrated people and performance management experience, and ability to develop, strengthen and support teams and create a collaborative culture. Successful track record of contributing at a senior level, managing resources including staff, financial and facilities, and preparing and managing budgets. Ability to do long-term horticultural planning and prepare garden management plans and targets. Able to provide proactive strategic leadership to the NBGW in horticulture, inspiring others to partner and contribute towards the Garden vision and to be part of it. Able to give clear and reliable advice to the Board of Trustees, Director, Senior Leadership Team and others on horticultural and plant related matters. Able to communicate confidently and persuasively with diverse audiences and successfully manage stakeholder relationships. Able to represent the NBGW throughout Wales, the UK and internationally in a range of different settings.


  • Knowledge of operating partnerships at national and international levels. Welsh language skills. Non-Welsh speaking staff will be encouraged and supported to learn Welsh conversational skills.



  • Extensive horticultural experience including broad plant knowledge, awareness of plant health issues and an appreciation of garden heritage. Experience of managing, motivating and providing leadership for a multidisciplinary team. Experience of efficient and effective management of resources. Evidence of initiating, preparing, progressing and delivering funding bids and grants or professional service contracts – or the clear capability to develop skills in this area.


  • Significant relevant experience of contributing to strategic level decision making in a garden and/or plant focused institution organisation. Experience of successful delivery of significant projects.

In addition:

  • Commitment to the aims, objectives, and ethos of the Garden and to the people, language and culture of Wales. Ability and willingness to work flexibly in relation to working times/days, including weekend working. Ability to travel independently in a rural area is essential, a valid driving licence is required.

Most Challenging Parts of the Job:

  • Inspirational leadership across a lean and complex third sector organisation. Delivering an inspiring botanic garden through large scale initiatives (i.e. Garden’s 25th anniversary celebrations, National Arboretum, the revitalisation of the Great Glasshouse and the expansion of the garden’s collection of Welsh flora). Increasing access to the living collection and its stories for diverse audience groups. Balancing conflicting priorities within and across the organisation.

Next Steps We are a bilingual institution. We welcome applications submitted in Welsh, an application submitted in Welsh will not be treated any less favourably than an application submitted in English.

We welcome applications from everyone – diversity, inclusion and the feeling of belonging matters to us. By attracting people to work for us from a broad range of diverse backgrounds we can continue to look at the world with fresh eyes and find new ways of doing things. We offer a stimulating and professional environment in which to work. This is a remarkable opportunity and we look for staff who can work according to our values – we champion diversity, encourage creativity, we are connected, and we value evidence.

Please contact Dr Lucy A. Sutherland (Director, National Botanic Garden of Wales) for a confidential discussion and to apply for this role (Tel: +44 (0)1558 667149; Email:




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