Richard Schulholf, for 14 years the CEO of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, will retire in late spring, the historic Arcadia horticultural site announced Thursday, Feb. 16.
In announcing his pending retirement, Schulhof, 65, said “In a horticultural career that spans a half-century, my years at the Arboretum have been an absolute highlight.”
Back in 2009, Schulholf emerged as a top candidate to take the reins of one of the country’s premier public gardens, replacing Mark Wuorms, who left after four years to join the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Kentucky. By then, Schulholf had already had a career that matched the reputation of the place – a career with local and national roots.
He had been the executive director at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, and at the time was deputy director of Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum.
“At this juncture, the intention is to work with that dedicated community to further enhance and build an already outstanding public resource,” he said at the time.
And build, he did, say officials, fueled by a strong vision of what the gardens should be for future generations.
Under Schulhof’s leadership the Arboretum has received increased community and support from L.A. County, making possible more than $30 million in funded improvements.
A flowering Trailing Indigo Bush, native to Texas, at the Los Angeles County Arboretum creates a wash of yellow along the main trail recently. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Projects include a new Visitor Plaza entrance now under construction, and a restoration of historic Baldwin Lake.
Officials also tout restoration of the site’s Reid-Baldwin Adobe and “vital repairs” to Lucky Baldwin’s Queen Anne Cottage.
They also point to Crescent Farm, a demonstration water conservation and sustainability landscape established in 2015, as helping the region adapt to the challenges of a new climate. And there’s the Engelmann oak seedlings on Tallac Knoll, which nurtured by staff and volunteers for more than a decade, officials say have brightened the future of the endangered species.
Norma Edith García-González, director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, said in a release announcing departure that “Richard has left an incredible mark and legacy on the Arboretum and the county — transforming the garden into a spectacular, magical place.”
Officials said that a national search is on, which will culminate in selecting a new CEO to begin work this summer.
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