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New Managing Horticulturist Appointed at The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum’s Branch for Medieval Art

Caleb Leech has been appointed to the position of Managing Horticulturist at The Cloisters museum and gardens, effective March 10. 

A branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters is the only museum in America dedicated exclusively to medieval art. Each of the three outdoor gardens at The Cloisters features a design and plantings based on information found in documents and works of art from the Middle Ages. One of the most specialized plant collections in the world, the Bonnefont Herb Garden includes veteran quince and espaliered pear trees (the eldest of which was planted in 1940) as well as plants known and used in the Middle Ages. The Cuxa Cloister garden features unique pollarded crab apple trees and ornamental borders, combining both medieval species and modern plants. And the Trie Cloister garden, currently under renovation, has traditionally been planted to evoke the flowering meadow so often depicted in medieval works of art. The gardens were originally laid out and planted in 1938, the year The Cloisters opened. 

Since 2004, Mr. Leech has worked at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where he was responsible for designing, planting, and maintaining the Herb Garden and orchard. 

C. Griffith Mann, the Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, commented: “Caleb’s extensive horticultural background combines research and interpretation of a historic garden with the hands-on experience required to keep the grounds thriving. We look forward to welcoming him to The Cloisters, where the gardens are a central part of the visitor experience. Caleb will build upon the legacy of those who preceded him in this post, while also engaging new audiences in the museum.”

Mr. Leech was raised on working farms in New England, and has been gardening from an early age. While a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he received a B.A. in comparative literature, he gained experience at organizations in Washington and California that grow rare and heirloom plant varieties and support organic farming and sustainable agriculture. From 1999 to 2004, he worked in his family’s landscaping business in Massachusetts. Since 2004, he has spoken and written about gardening, and has published articles in periodicals including Herb Quarterly and Garden Design . He is also a contributor to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Handbook Series, having written chapters on soil care, scented pathways, and edible teaching gardens. 

Mr. Leech will fill the position previously held by Deirdre Larkin, who retired in December. 

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March 10, 2014

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