By Sally Pearsall Ericson
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
On July 23, 2020, the Trustees of the Bellingrath Morse Foundation announced that Bellingrath Gardens and Home had hired Dr. F. Todd Lasseigne as Executive Director. Dr. Lasseigne (pronounced “Lah-SANG”) was President and CEO of Tulsa Botanic Garden in Osage County, Oklahoma, a position he had held since 2011. Under his leadership, Tulsa Botanic Garden became a nationally recognized botanical garden.
Dr. Lasseigne, a highly respected horticulturist and public garden leader, holds horticultural degrees from three universities. Early in his career, he was awarded the Martin McLaren Horticultural Scholarship from the Garden Club of America, which he used to study gardens, garden history, plant diversity, plant conservation, and horticulture in the United Kingdom. He has undertaken plant expeditionary work in China, the Republic of Georgia, Mexico, and much of the U.S. He has visited more than 450 gardens during his career.
Dr. Lasseigne has been invited to speak to nursery and public garden professionals in the U.S., the Japanese Nursery Association in Saitama, Japan, and the Seoul Botanic Park in South Korea. He served as the chair of the Plant Collections Professional Section for the American Public Gardens Association from 2008 to 2011, is active in numerous plant societies, and helped organize professional meetings for the Maple Society and the American Public Gardens Association.
“We could not be more pleased to have Todd Lasseigne join us as the new Executive Director at Bellingrath,” said Preston Bolt, Chairman of the Trustees of the Bellingrath Morse Foundation. “Todd’s extensive horticultural background, his tremendous experience at gardens around the country and his obvious appreciation for the history and mission of the Gardens and Home make him an ideal successor to Bill Barrick. We look forward to working with him and the rest of the tremendous staff to make Bellingrath an even more inviting embodiment of the beautiful and historic Gardens and Home that Walter and Bessie Bellingrath left as an enduring legacy to our community, State and region.”
“I am excited and honored to be joining Bellingrath Gardens and Home as the next Executive Director,” Dr. Lasseigne said. “Bellingrath is a beloved institution of national renown, and it is a quintessentially southern garden. It is clear to me that a bright future for Bellingrath lies ahead, building on past excellence and its historical lineage. With decades of beauty, displays, and collections, all set on a magnificent site, the Gardens and Home will continue to grow in importance and value for the citizens of Mobile and southern Alabama, as well as our neighbors to the east and west. I look forward to bringing new eyes and perspectives to this public garden and historic home, coupled with excellence already existing from Bellingrath’s superb board leadership and talented, dedicated, and knowledgeable staff.”
A native of Thibodaux, La., Dr. Lasseigne holds degrees in horticulture from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Georgia, and North Carolina State University. Before coming to Tulsa Botanic Garden, Dr. Lasseigne was the founding Executive Director of the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden in Kernersville, N.C., and Assistant Director of the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.
Dr. Lasseigne was selected to replace Dr. William E. Barrick after a national search. Dr. Barrick retired on July 19, 2019, after 20 years at Bellingrath, and was named Executive Director Emeritus.
Dr. Lasseigne is married to Heather Toedt. “Heather and I share a passion for plants, connecting people through plants, gardening, gardens, and landscape architecture,” he said. “When we travel, we look for wildflowers, cool natural areas, beautiful gardens, nurseries and garden centers, and anything horticultural.”
He will begin work at Bellingrath Gardens and Home on September 1, 2020.