Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Announces New Horticulture Director
John Morse brings commitment to public gardens; experience at some of the country’s finest
RICHMOND, VA — After an extensive national search, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is pleased to announce John Morse as its new director of horticulture. Morse’s career shows a deep commitment to education and public gardens with leadership experience at premier gardens in the United States, including the New York Botanical Garden. Most recently he was superintendent of horticulture for the Morris County Park Commission in Morristown, N.J., where he was responsible for more than 450 acres including Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Willowwood Arboretum, and Bamboo Brook Historic Garden. In his new role, Morse will direct horticulture for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden starting in early July.
Morse joins Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden as it embarks on initiatives detailed in a five-year strategic plan to expand horticulture collections and displays, reaffirm the Garden’s commitment to education, and strengthen and enhance the Garden’s community engagement. “John brings a wonderful depth and breadth of public gardens experience,” said Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s Executive Director Shane Tippett. “He shares our commitment to connect people through plants to improve communities.”
Morse is excited about the opportunities in his new position. “It’s a chance to demonstrate my commitment to horticultural excellence and promote public gardens as places where people can appreciate and connect with the natural world.”
Morse has a master’s in plant pathology and a bachelor’s in ornamental horticulture and botany, both from Cornell University. He is also an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist.
In his previous role as superintendent of horticulture with the Morris County Park Commission, Morse oversaw design, installation and maintenance of seasonal and permanent displays in 23 gardens and 17 plant collections. Projects included managing the horticultural aspects of a $1.7 million restoration of Bamboo Brook Historic Garden, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
As curator of outdoor gardens at New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), Morse developed and managed eight outdoor display gardens at the 250-acre property. Located in the Bronx, NYBG is recognized as one of the nation’s top public gardens with more than 600,000 visitors annually.
Morse also worked at Cornell University Plantations in Ithaca, N.Y., for 13 years as plant records curator and greenhouse manager for the university’s 200-acre botanical garden and arboretum.
Morse fills the position vacated by Grace Chapman Elton, who left in March 2017 to become CEO of Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts.
The non-profit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has consistently been recognized as one of the top 10 botanical gardens in the United States with more than 467,000 guests last year.