Reynolda Announces New Director of Reynolda Gardens
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest University has hired Jon Roethling as its new director. Roethling steps into the leadership role of the renowned historic gardens and landscape of R.J. and Katharine Reynolds’s former estate after serving as curator of grounds for the Mariana Qubein Botanical Gardens at High Point University. He will begin as director December 3.
“Jon has the critical combination of experience and aspiration to position Reynolda Gardens for the future,” said Allison Perkins, Wake Forest University associate provost for Reynolda House & Reynolda Gardens, who led the search committee for the new director. “His understanding and respect for our history paired with his passion for making the beauty of our landscape accessible to all will be a boon to all of Wake Forest, Reynolda and our visitors.”
Roethling has an extensive background in public horticulture and landscaping spanning nearly 30 years. At High Point University, he guided the establishment of several important plant collections, developed new garden spaces and led the renovation of nearly all existing campus gardens. Prior to his position there, Roethling was a research technician and horticulture assistant for several years at the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University, his alma mater. He credits his time there as central to igniting his passion for public horticulture, and for establishing his extensive network of professional relationships in the field.
At Reynolda, Roethling will join the senior leadership team under Perkins’s direction, and manage a team of five professional staff members and a dedicated volunteer group who care for 129 acres that include formal gardens, a conservatory, wooded walking trails, vast lawns and wetlands. Originally designed by Thomas Sears utilizing a site plan by Louis L. Miller and Horatio R. Buckenham, the gardens and landscape are used for recreation and respite by thousands of visitors each year and serve as a place of academic research and exploration for university students.
With hundreds of plant varieties, flowering across the estate begins in late winter and continues until frost. The formal gardens, located between Reynolda House and Reynolda Road, have been open to the public continuously for more than 100 years.
“I am inspired by how much the public uses and enjoys these gardens; there is a vibrancy here that really struck a chord with me,” Roethling said. “Carrying on the legacy of Katharine Smith Reynolds is an incredible opportunity and responsibility. She was committed to bringing the latest techniques and styles to the people of the area. I think that is a story that the gardens can help tell.”
Roethling has lectured widely to garden clubs and groups across North Carolina and recently presented at the American Public Gardens Association Conference. He is a past president and current member of the Guilford Horticultural Society and is the author of numerous articles and research papers. He says he is excited about integrating all of what makes Reynolda a unique, welcoming place.
“Reynolda provides a union of learning, art, and nature that is unlike other outdoor spaces or historic sites,” he said. “I believe there are tremendous opportunities to explore the connections between the landscape and gardens with the art and history showcased at the museum and in the village. I want to see Reynolda Gardens become a beacon for anyone who enjoys gardens and the natural world.”
Public horticulture is a shared passion between Roethling and his wife of 15 years, Adrienne, who is the director of curation and mission delivery at the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden in Kernersville. They spend much of their free time in the garden and traveling to other public gardens, and they enjoy volunteering with Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue.
Reynolda, in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a rare gem among the nation’s cultural institutions and historic greenspaces. The 50-year-old museum at the center of Reynolda’s 180 acres, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, presents a renowned art collection in a historic and incomparable setting: the original 1917 interiors of the country manor of R. J. Reynolds. Spanning 250 years, the collection is an uncompromisingly selective one, a chronology of American art, with each artist represented by one work of major significance. The Reynolda experience includes a free app called Reynolda Revealed; touring exhibitions in the museum’s Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing; formal gardens, conservatory and walking trails of Reynolda Gardens; and more than 25 of the estate’s original buildings repurposed as shops and restaurants in Reynolda Village. Reynolda, located at 2250 Reynolda Road, is adjacent to Wake Forest University. For more information, please visit reynolda.org. Connect with the gardens at @reynoldagardenswfu on Instagram.