Meet David Stevens: A New Chapter for Longenecker Horticultural Gardens

Photo: Bill Arthur

Photo: Bill Arthur

On May 4, 2015, the UW–​Madison Arboretum welcomed David Stevens as the new curator of the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens.

Professor Edward Hasselkus, the previous curator, cared for the gardens for almost 50 years. With his exceptional stewardship and many generous donations from supporters over the past several years, a solid foundation is set for the new endowed position being filled by David Stevens. David’s commitment to build on that foundation will ensure that Longenecker Horticultural Gardens continue as an integral part of UW–Madison Arboretum mission as well as a renowned public destination.

David completed his bachelor’s degree in horticulture at Virginia Tech and his master’s in horticulture at the UW–Madison. His studies at the UW included working with Ed Hasselkus in Longenecker Gardens.

David’s extensive career experience includes industry work at Agracetus in Middleton and horticultural work at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Most recently, he held the position of state forest improvement research specialist in the UW–Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.

When asked why he sought the curator position, David said, “as a horticulturist with a love of woody ornamentals, I would have kicked myself for the rest of my life if I hadn’t applied for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with the preeminent woody ornamental collection in the state. I came to Madison from out of state 25 years ago to pursue my master’s degree with Professor Ed Hasselkus, at which time I was introduced to the regional jewel that is Longenecker Horticultural Gardens. I spent many hours in the gardens doing research for my master’s project and have visited off and on through the years, always come away with a sense of awe for the beauty, robustness, and diversity of the collection. In addition, as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, I learned of the Arboretum for its astounding work on prairie restoration and natural habitat ecology. Curtis Prairie, in particular, has always enchanted me and was a primary impetus for establishing a small 2.5-acre prairie restoration on my own property.”

David says a short-term goal, along with maintaining and enhancing the collection, is to work with staff to make the plant collection available online in a searchable form.