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After national search, Descanso taps own staffer as horticultural head

David Bare named director of horticulture for Descanso Gardens
David Bare, a display horticulturalist with Descanso Gardens, was recently selected to serve as director of horticulture for the 150-acre botanical garden in La Cañada Flintridge. He replaces former director Rachel Young, who left in February.
(Photo courtesy of Descanso Gardens)

David Bare, a display horticulturalist for Descanso Gardens, will now oversee the physical operation of the 149-acre garden and play a critical role in setting and achieving strategic, long-range goals after being named Monday as director of horticulture.

His selection comes after a nationwide search was conducted to fill the position left vacant by former director Rachel Young, who departed in February after nearly 12 years of service.

Descanso Executive Director Juliann Rooke said in a statement released Monday officials talked “to candidates with a vast array of experience, but David stood out by far.”

“Millions have seen and enjoyed his work in the time he’s been at Descanso,” Rooke continued. “David works hands-on with all the collections and knows the Gardens better than anyone. We are thrilled to bring his in-depth knowledge to this role.”


Bare came to the La Cañada botanical garden in 2014 from Wake Forest University’s Reynolda Gardens in Winston Salem, N.C., where he was greenhouse and conservatory manger for 12 years. There, he led the introduction and propagation of a variety of plant materials and contributed a weekly garden column for the Winston Salem Journal.

At Descanso, he’s helped open new areas to the visiting public while expanding and improving exhibits such as the springtime tulip garden. Bare also redesigned and planted gardens around the historic Boddy House and Nature’s Table, an edible garden and outdoor classroom for elementary school students.

“I am very happy to be taking on this position,” Bare stated in Monday’s release, acknowledging a cultural shift taking place at Descanso. “As director, I really hope to promote a continual sense of wonder for visitors.”

Rooke called Bare a thoughtful collaborator with a huge creative spirit.


“I’m really excited about the prospect of partnering with him, and his entire department, on Descanso’s Master Plan over the next 15 years,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what we come up with together.”

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