Growing Up: Greenhouse Manager

By Danny Freedman
Tuesday, August 9, 2005 4:45 PM


JOB: Greenhouse general manager at the Washington National Cathedral

SALARY: The average salary for a greenhouse supervisor in the Mid-Atlantic region was $43,314 in 2003, according to the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta (

EDUCATION: Bachelor's in plant breeding and genetics from Cornell University

WHAT SHE DOES: Jones runs the Cathedral's greenhouse, outdoor yards and plant-growing facility, making sure the bills are paid and the facility is packed with plant life to sell to the public. The bulk of what's on sale is brought in from wholesale nurseries. Each spring Jones orders plants -- annuals and perennials as well as tropical plants, cacti, orchids and Venus flytraps, that fill the glass greenhouse -- from various suppliers, after going on buying sprees through their fields. The greenhouse's specialties, however, are its herbs, veggies and "clones," which are made from cuttings of plants on the Cathedral grounds (figs and boxwood are popular). "People just seem to like to have something that was grown here, that they know the church produced," said Jones. She also builds arrangements to rent out for banquets and dinners and, last year, a wedding. And she lends a creative eye to filling customers' pots, gently steering them away from "your run-of-the-mill, boring plants."

WOULD YOU WANT HER JOB? The greenhouse can get as hot as 110 degrees in August. And with hoisting garden statues and bags of soil, you're all but guaranteed to be dirty by the end of the day. But you get a rest in winter: The months of March through June move at "warp speed," said Jones, followed by bursts of business selling pumpkins and corn in the fall and poinsettias at Christmas, before the pace goes "completely dead."

HOW YOU CAN GET HER JOB: You'll likely need a bachelor's degree in a plant-related field, such as plant sciences or horticulture, or several years of experience if you want to climb the food chain at a greenhouse, said Jones. On the other hand, greenhouse technicians at the Cathedral might just have a strong interest in plants (volunteer positions are also available).

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Resources and job listings can be found at the American Society for Horticulture Science (, the American Horticultural Society (; and Jobs in Horticulture (

This article originally appeared in the Express on May 9, 2005.

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