Brian Holley, executive director of the Naples Botanical Garden, is well known for leading NBG’s growth over the past decade. His tenure saw the addition of new gardens, a research and development center, and the most recent expansion, a new visitor center and café. After a decade at the helm, Holley will retire at the end of the year. His career in public gardens began nearly 40 years ago at Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington, Ontario. He also led the Cleveland Botanical Garden before moving to Naples. Holley plans to remain in the area after retirement.
Hidden talent: I am a pretty good cook.
Most treasured possession: My brother’s paintings of a farm where I lived in my 20s.
Naples’ best-kept secret: The farmers market in Immokalee.
Words to live by: Without dreams you will never change your reality.
1. Biggest obstacle to overcome: I was a high school dropout and drifted around doing various jobs. In my mid-20s I was accepted into forestry school, graduated at the top of my class. I discovered my passion for plants and went to work for the Royal Botanical Garden in Ontario. It has been an amazing career.
2. Favorite flower in the Garden: I have a new favorite every time I walk through, but have always been fascinated by lotus.
3. Bucket-list topper: A trip to northern Canada to view the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
4. Inspiring read: The Intelligence of Flowers (1907) by Maurice Maeterlinck opened my eyes to the amazing adaptations the plants have developed in order to reproduce.
5. Best musician: John Prine writes the most evocative lyrics.
6. Preferred fashion designer: Joseph Abboud-—fits and made in the United States.
7. Guilty pleasure: Sancerre.
8. Favorite local golf course: Calusa Pines Golf Club; everything about it is perfect.
9. Best local dish: The Local has amazing fish tacos!
10. Favorite local beach: Lovers Key; I like the wildness.