Director of Horticulture

Director of Horticulture
Organization Friends of the High Line
Location New York, New York, United States
Job Type Full Time
Application Deadline Dec 10, 2021


The High Line is both a nonprofit organization and a public park on the West Side of Manhattan. Through our work with communities on and off the High Line, we’re devoted to reimagining public spaces to create connected, healthy neighborhoods and cities.

Built on a historic, elevated rail line, the High Line was always intended to be more than a park. You can walk through the gardens, view art, experience a performance, enjoy food or beverage, or connect with friends and neighbors—all while enjoying a unique perspective of New York City.

Nearly 100% of our annual budget comes through donations. The High Line is owned by the City of New York and we operate under a license agreement with NYC Parks.

Job description

The High Line seeks a strong, intuitive leader with a passion for urban horticulture and public space management for our next director of horticulture. The director of horticulture will lead the team of talented urban horticulturists who together are responsible for all aspects of the management and long term care of the High Line’s landscape. The director of horticulture is a key contributor to the overall Park Operations team, and a champion of our horticulture program. They also, critically, support the integration of horticulture with the work of the rest of the organization and day-to-day operations of our active public space. This is a full-time, exempt position that reports to the vice president of park operations.

Primary responsibilities

  • Act as the leading member of the our Horticulture department, taking responsibility for long-term planning and oversight of the High Line’s unique landscape and gardens
  • Evaluate, build, and codify a cohesive landscape management plan that ensures long-term sustainability, consistency in best practices, and management techniques along 1.5 miles of internationally renowned, highly-visited public greenspace
  • Work closely with the Design department to implement and reinforce the design principles of our High Line plantings, while ensuring that the landscape can adapt and react to the rapidly changing cityscape that surrounds it
  • Participate in donor identification, cultivation, and stewardship efforts related to our horticulture; identify new opportunities for donor engagement around horticultural and operational initiatives
  • Actively promote and contribute to our sustainability initiatives in landscape and park management
  • Assess existing landscape challenges and work with Horticulture staff, landscape designers, and consultants to formulate appropriate responses and implement changes as necessary
  • Work in tandem with High Line Art and Public Programs to create horticulture programs
  • Create immediate and long-term strategic departmental goals; communicate updates and plans through the appropriate channels to park visitors, High Line donors, Board members, NYC Parks, and audiences both locally and abroad
  • Work directly with the horticulture manager and horticulture supervisors to oversee the safe day-to-day operations of the Horticulture team
  • Lead weekly meetings with Horticulture staff and articulate departmental priorities on a daily/weekly basis; ensure that work plans are designed and executed in conjunction with such priorities
  • Work with manager of horticulture and horticulture supervisors to provide direction related to individual and group projects, with attention to long-term planning and problem solving
  • Ensure the optimal staffing of the Horticulture team, recruiting, hiring, and training to build out the department and ensure that gardeners receive ongoing instruction and evaluation, while continually expanding their diverse skill sets
  • Communicate regularly with vice president of park operations on the status of projects, providing information and feedback on all horticulture areas
  • Act as part of High Line Operations management team, participating in weekly division meetings, responding to emergency situations on the High Line (including, but not limited to, snow removal), and creating a positive visitor experience
  • Draft RFPs for third party vendors as needed; review proposals, engage, and coordinate activities of third party vendors
  • Evaluate existing plant records and create a long-term plan for translating pertinent information to and print material
  • Work with the vice president of park operations, Horticulture staff, and Public Program staff to develop, organize, and implement horticulture programs, publications, and tours
  • Participate in a range of activities beyond the typical work day, including High Line events and programs, fundraising initiatives, tours, and stewardship and cultivation activities as needed
  • Hands-on support of the Horticulture staff in the field


  • 10+ years of horticultural experience with in-depth knowledge of plant culture, maintenance, and identification
  • Successful track record managing a public or private garden and its staff
  • Intuitive understanding of urban and rooftop horticulture and the challenges that come with it
  • In-depth understanding of public/private partnerships
  • Previous experience managing people
  • Ability to represent the High Line externally by leading tours and giving presentations for a variety of audiences
  • Ability to work long hours, holidays, and weekends as necessary
  • Valid New York State driver’s license or ability to obtain one
  • Solid computer skills required (Microsoft Word/Excel/Outlook)
  • Ability to operate electric equipment and power tools
  • Team-player, willing to physically and intellectually collaborate on all tasks required for maintaining the highest standards of landscape management and operations, programs, development, and communications

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders, including high level donors, city partners and external design firms
  • Understanding or experience with Piet Oudolf design and techniques
  • Advanced degree in horticulture and in-depth knowledge of landscape care and maintenance is preferred
  • OSHA-certified or the ability to be certified
  • Pesticide Applicator’s license or ability to obtain one


  • Ability to perform heavy, physical labor on a daily basis in all weather conditions (year-round)
  • Ability to walk, reach, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and regularly lift and/or move 75lbs with proper tools

Newly hired employees are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (i.e., have received both doses of a two-dose vaccine or a single dose of a one-dose vaccine) and must provide proof of vaccination upon request by the organization. Requests for potential accommodation shall be considered in accordance with applicable law if and at such time as a conditional offer of employment is extended to a candidate. Applicants should not provide any medical or genetic information with their application.


  • 20 vacation days, 56 hrs of sick time, 10 paid holidays, and 2 floating holidays
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • Supplemental short-term disability insurance and 100% paid life insurance and AD&D coverage
  • Paid primary and secondary caregiver leave
  • Flexible spending account
  • Commuter benefits
  • Contribution in a 403(b) retirement plan
  • Discounted Citi Bike membership
  • Employee Assistance Program
Application Link