We couldn’t do it without our team

Since our founding in 1986, we’ve been blessed to have so many amazing people work at both the gardens and nursery. While many folks may prefer air-conditioned office cubicles, our staff embraces everything from blazing heat and humidity to drenching hurricanes, to bone chilling snowstorms.

Meet the people who make it happen

Since our founding in 1986, we’ve been blessed to have so many amazing people work at both the gardens and nursery. While many folks may prefer air-conditioned office cubicles, our staff embraces everything from blazing heat and humidity to drenching hurricanes, to bone chilling snowstorms.

About our Staff

Our JLBG team consists of 15 full-time staff, along with additional part-time, seasonal staff, and a great team of volunteers. Support staff, which includes administration and facilities, which aren’t included here, are shared equally with Plant Delights Nursery. 

Our garden staff has the monumental task of taking care of the maintenance and installation of all plants in the public parts and peripheral areas of the botanic garden. While weeding and mulching may not seem glamorous, they are essential to keeping the plant collections both intact and attractive.

Meet our Staff

Doug Ruhren

Garden Curator


After completing his studies at Rutgers, Doug’s path here included stints at The Chatwood Estate, Montrose Gardens, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, and The American Camellia Society headquarters, not to mention running his own landscape design business. He was co-curator, along with Edith Eddleman, of the Perennial Border at the JC Raulston Arboretum for 20 years. Edith was its original designer in the late 1970’s, though Doug and Edith collaborated equally on its most recent redesign in 2000.  Doug came to us from our sister institution, the JC Raulston Arboretum, where he wore many hats from presenting programs to Garden Manager.

Doug is responsible for most of the plant collections and planting decisions, advising garden maintenance staff, and heading up many of our educational efforts.

Logan Clark
Logan Clark

Garden Manager


Logan came to JLBG after finishing his master’s degree at Appalachian State in ecology where he studied the population genetics of federally listed endangered species. He has a long-standing interest in native plants of the Southeast US and is most interested in their utility in landscape restoration through habitat gardening. Logan joined us after stints as a researcher at both Oregon State and the USDA. Logan manages all aspects of our garden from coordinating our volunteer program, to planting and maintenance, as well as sharing his knowledge via plant talks.

Logan and his team are responsible for all garden installation and maintenance, as well as managing our volunteer program.

Dustin Loyd

Horticultural Garden Supervisor


Dustin’s journey with horticulture and plants took root early, nurturing a lifelong passion for the growth and care of living things. He brings over a decade of experience in gardening and plant care. With a dedication to organic gardening and an eye for detail, Dustin’s skills are a natural fit within the diverse environment of JLBG. While managing a local urban farm, Dustin honed his expertise in all-natural gardening practices, which has provided the foundation for his meticulous attention to aesthetic detail and sustainability across the gardens of JLBG. In his current role, Dustin supervises a team of gardeners, oversees daily gardening tasks, and ensures best practices to enhance the garden.

Zac Hill
Zac Hill

Plant Records, Taxonomist


Zac is a native North Carolinian, who was first introduced to JLBG as a teenager, visiting during Open Houses with his dad. Zac went on to study botany at NC State, before moving to Texas, where he made regular botanizing trips throughout Northern Mexico. Zac has an amazing memory for the details of virtually every plant he’s either read about or personally encountered, during his many botanizing trips throughout the southeast US and further abroad around the US and Latin America. He has already discovered several new species from the region, most of which are yet to be published. Zac’s main areas of focus are around monocots, such as Trillium, Aspidistra, Agaves and learning more about Cyperaceae.

Zac and his team have the crucial job of making sure all garden plants are entered into our database, named, and labeled correctly, as well as working on publishing new taxa from our collections.

Bill Reynolds

Plant Field Production, Trials Supervisor


Bill received his BS from University of North Alabama, then headed to Auburn for graduate work. He joined us after a long stint as an entomologist at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, where he was a curator and managed the Arthropod Zoo.  Among his responsibilities were animal and plant husbandry, animal records, and permitting (USFWS, USDA, and NCDA). Although the focus of his background is entomology (insect and plant interactions), he also has experience in botany and horticulture. Bill heads up our field production, where many of the rare, multi-year production cycle plants are grown. He also is in charge of our plant breeding fields. In addition to his primary responsibilities here at JLBG, he also provides educational programs to the public.

Bill and his team plant, maintain, cultivate, and record data from our field production and trials. Here, plants requiring a multiple year production or trialing cycle are grown.

Horticulture and gardens staff

Plant Records Assistant – Berkeley Whitehurst

Field Trials and Turf Technician – Jason Crickenberger

Core Gardeners – John Lenhart, Sage Boettcher, Juan Posada, Hannah Harvey, Sarah Watson

Curator of the Seed CollectionSophie Meng

Outdoor IPM and Plant Health Technician – Devin Rantz

Administrative staff

Administrative Manager – Lyllan Roberts

Web Developer & IT – Robert Lawless

Marketing/Social Media Supervisor – Chris Hardison

Marketing/Graphic Artist/JLBG Website DesignerLidia Churakova

Meet Tony and Anita Avent

Tony founded Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Garden in 1986 with his now late wife, Michelle. Today, Tony and Anita are busy securing the future of the garden.

Tony smiling (Image credit: Georg Ublehart)

Tony Avent

When Tony Avent was young, he wandered the woods of Raleigh, NC, observing plants and making selections for his early garden. He began to share this passion with the world, first through garden writing, then overseeing the landscape at the NC State Fairgrounds for 16 years.

In 1986, Tony, and his now late wife, Michelle, opened Plant Delights Nursery. Juniper Level Botanic Garden (JLBG) was built to surround the nursery, first as a trial garden, and later as an ex-situ conservation and propagation garden.

Over the years, JLBG evolved into one of the most significant ex-situ plant collections in the world, and in doing so has hosted and worked with many of the worlds’ most brilliant horticultural minds.


Anita Avent

Anita Avent

Anita Avent also calls the Raleigh area home. She is a Meredith College graduate (1979) with a B.S. in Business Administration, earning an MBA in 1989. Now retired, she spent most of her working career in health insurance administration, strategic planning, marketing, development, and as a lobbyist, and later, as a Commissioner on the NC Rules Review Commission. 

Today she enjoys long walks in nature, reading nonfiction, watching good movies, and being with her two kitties Jake and Elwood. She is Mom to three adult children and Granny to two grandchildren.

Jake and Elwood

Meet our volunteers

We couldn’t do it without our volunteers who do a tremendous job of keeping the garden weeded, mulched, raked, and pampered. Some of you have become good friends over the years, others have come and gone, but we appreciate every tiny bit of effort and every drop of sweat that hit the garden soil. Your community inspires us to look with fresh eyes at the garden and motivates us to move forward with our vision.

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