In the release, sent Thursday night, botanic garden Board of Trustees member Elin R. Dowd said the garden appreciated the leadership Larkin gave the organization. "Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden experienced considerable growth during Mr. Larkin's tenure," Dowd said in a statement. "He has left RSABG in a good position to continue to promote the conservation and appreciation of California native plants."
In 2004, Larkin joined RSABG as interim director and the next year was appointed executive director, according to the garden's news release. During Larkin's tenure, non-endowment revenue and membership tripled.
In June 2010, however, a Facebook page titled "What is the future of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden?" criticized Larkin after seven staffers were laid off because of budget cuts. Someone posted on the site that "This cannot be good for the mission of the garden! ... Please don't let them get away with making the historically important Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden into just another pretty park."
Officials said RSABG's endowment historically accounted for up to 70 percent of the core operating budget, but it lost about 23 percent of its value during the last fiscal year.
"It's not happy, and it's not cheerful," Larkin said at the time. "The nature of the cuts was such that almost every department was affected."
Spokeswoman Pauline Nash said Thursday night via email she did not have details why Larkin resigned but on Friday morning she said it "is unrelated to the staff reductions and community reactions to that decision."
Lucinda McDade, the RSABG Judith B. Friend Director of Research, was appointed by the trustees as interim director immediately.
The garden is at 1500 N. College Ave.