Lead Gardener/Plant Recorder

Application Deadline


Mount Desert , Maine

Scope of Work:  The Lead Gardener/Plant Recoder is responsible for the maintenance of the Asticou Azalea Garden (Azalea Garden) reporting directly to the Azalea Garden Manager.  All operations taking place within the garden are within the scope of this position.  The Lead Gardener/Plant Recorder will also maintain the plant collection records in the IrisBG plant database, reporting to the Director of Farm and Gardens. At times, this crew member will direct Azalea Garden staff or collaborate with other staff projects throughout the Land & Garden Preserve. This is an exempt twelve-month position; full-time (40 hours per week) with benefits. Flexible schedule is required due to weather, weekend/evening coverage, and winter projects. 

To apply please send a cover letter and resume care of Deb DeForest to [email protected] or via mail to Land & Garden Preserve, PO Box 208, Seal Harbor, ME 04675

The Azalea Garden is a three-acre garden created by Charles Savage in 1957, similar to a Japanese stroll garden and adapted to the coastal Maine environment. It is open to the public from May to November. The garden is privately owned and maintained by the Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to share the beauty of historic lands and gardens on Mount Desert Island. The Preserve also owns and operates McAlpin Farm, Thuya Gardens and Asticou Terrace, Little Long Pond lands, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden and Eyrie Terrace. 

Essential Job Functions:                                                                     

Asticou Azalea Garden tasks:

  • Maintain the woody plant collection, primarily Ericaceous species and conifers (Scotch, White and Mugo Pines), to high standards while ensuring plant health and beauty. Manage soil and plant health in an environmentally sustainable manner, using organic, sustainable garden practices.
  • Assist Garden Manager with development of the Azalea Garden overall:
      • Leads, and performs all maintenance activities using Japanese and Asticou Azalea Garden specific practices where appropriate.
      • Maintains a State of Maine pesticide license. Leads, and performs the scouting, documenting and the treatment of pests, as needed, through organic measures.
      • Leads and performs winter tasks i.e. security checks, snow removal, and projects.
      • Labels the plant collection, maintaining standards set by Garden Manager.
  • Assist the Asticou Garden Manager with directing and implementing special projects such as, but not limited to: siting and movement of large stones, landscape renovation projects and construction of various fencing.
  • Monitor water quality in the ponds; initiate the pond maintenance tasks as needed. Respond to the unique challenges of a fresh water stream system.
  • Lead or assist with all garden tasks as needed including labeling, mowing, trimming, weeding, equipment repair, raking paths, raking sand garden, receiving supplies, winterizing garden, installing temporary deer fencing, pond maintenance, brush disposal, and running errands.
  • Document garden maintenance activities and procedures.
  • Operate tools and equipment in a safe manner and ensure they are well maintained. Adhere to the Preserve’s equipment safety and training procedures.  Ensure the use of PPE in accordance with OSHA standards.

​​​​​​​Support and outreach activities:

  • Assist the Azalea Garden Manager with the annual budget. Provide support documents and quotes as needed. Process invoices as needed.
  • Direct and train staff, volunteers, and contractual workers as needed and in the Azalea Garden Manager’s absence.
  • Maintain a strong working knowledge of the historical and cultural heritage of the property, including the plant collection. Interact with all guests (visitors, members, co-workers, and board directors) in a friendly and professional manner. Assist with garden events, tours, newsletters and requests for information as needed.
  • Assist with the care and security of all structures including cleaning, stocking brochures, trash removal, restroom maintenance, organizing storage areas and identifying issues. Monitor property for visitor safety.
  • Assist with gate revenue processing. Collect cash, maintain cash ledger, make deposits.

Preserve plant database management:

  • Maintain accurate plant records for the permanent (non-annual) plant collections of four gardens (Abby Garden, Thuya Garden, McAlpin Farm and Asticou Azalea Garden) as directed by the Director of Farm and Gardens, primarily during winter season.
      • Research as needed to verify plant names.
      • Work closely with Preserve staff content specialists to identify plant material.
      • Establish a system for inventorying the permanent collection and conduct inventories.
      • Be familiar with the database activities of other staff who may be entering new accessions and/or annuals to ensure consistency, as needed.
      • Assist as needed with special database projects, including running reports, adding pictures or mapping locations of plant material.
  • Assist in training new staff, interns or volunteers in IrisBG.
  • Implement accession labels.
  • Assist in launching and maintaining the Preserve plant collections on the web through IrisBG’s Garden Explorer.
  • Inform the Plant Records budget.
  1. Assist with all other projects

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Valid driver’s license
  • College degree in horticulture or a related field is preferred.
  • Three years’ experience in the gardening field (knowledge of woody plant maintenance and some perennials). Willing to learn about the philosophy and embrace techniques of Japanese gardening as it pertains to the coast of Maine.
  • Willingness to maintain an ISA arborist certification.
  • Has a familiarity with plant databases, able to learn the IrisBG plant database and ESRI mapping software.
  • Able to work outside in all weather conditions, lift 50 pounds and maneuver heavy items.
  • Knowledge of specific pruning and/or bonsai techniques and willingness to learn Asticou Azalea Garden pruning practices.
  • Experience with plant identification and a solid understanding of plant nomenclature.
  • Able to use various garden tools including ladders, pruning saws, shears, pruners, pole saw/pruner, mowers, weed whip, sprinklers, tree sling, ball cart, garden rakes and screens.
  • Ability to work a flexible schedule, work independently, and have effective time management skills.
  • Ability to respond accurately and engagingly to visitor questions with information about the Garden.
  • The employee must obtain a pesticide license within first 8 months of employment. For the first three test attempts, the employer will pay the test costs and allow the employee to study for and take the test on work time. If the employee has not passed the exam after three attempts, further attempts will be at the employee’s cost and on the employee’s time.