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Gilbert A. Voss (1946 to 2011)
Horticulturist and Curator



As Gardener and then Horticulturist and Curator, Gil Voss was instrumental in the early development of Quail Botanical Gardens, bringing a high level of professionalism and scientific techniques to the Garden in its earliest years.

Voss attended San Diego State University and earned Bachelor’s degrees in Botany, Anthropology and Zoology. In 1974 he was hired by San Diego County as a Gardener at Quail Botanical Gardens. From 1980 to 1989, Voss was the S.D. County Horticulturist and Curator at QBG, and he and his wife Alison lived on the property. Voss is credited with initiating a more scientific approach to the process of maintaining and developing this botanic garden, including the following contributions:

  1. Renovating the cactus and succulent collections, incorporating a focus on parallel evolution and biodiversity between the Old World and New World gardens.
  2. Establishing a phyto-geographical planting scheme.
  3. Developing the nursery.
  4. Helping create the Docent Society, along with his wife Alison.
  5. Setting a goal of accreditation by the American Association of Museums.
  6. Starting the herbarium and computerizing the plant records.
  7. Co-founding the American Bamboo Society.
  8. Co-authoring an Institute of Museum Services grant to survey, grid and map QBG and to study their three most important collections: bamboos, cycads and palms.

In 1980 Voss met Jaime Bauml, Botanist at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. The two formed a collecting partnership that lasted the better part of ten years, with regular trips to Mexico, concentrating on the ethno-botany of the Huichol Indians in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Voss also made trips to Peru and Columbia, underwritten by QBG Foundation member Bill Gunther, to collect plants and bamboos for Quail. In 1987 he co-founded the American Bamboo Society and was invited to attend the first International Bamboo Congress in Anduze, France.

Voss’s passions exemplified his lifelong understanding of the fundamental importance of biodiversity and his commitment to interdisciplinary synthesis practices. An adjunct to all of this was his joy of learning and sharing. Over the years, he communicated with numerous professionals in many fields, wrote papers and articles, and mentored people of all ages.

Banner Photo: Rachel Cobb