It’s All About the People... and the Plants of Course!
Reading Time 1 minute and 40 seconds
Date 22 November 2023
This was my initial response to the query “What does volunteering at St Andrews Botanical Gardens mean to you Sandy?” On further reflection I decided there was a little bit more to it than that. The people I refer to are like-minded, dynamic individuals who have a thirst to gain and share horticultural experiences.
Volunteering means I gain access to a fountain of information on practices and procedures imparted by welcoming, engaging and clever staff. Volunteers are also very knowledgeable with their wide and varied backgrounds. Each has a tale to tell and in ways are on their own personal journeys. These combinations mean every volunteering session is like a school day, only much more fun. I relish the thought of what I will learn on each day.
Making new friends and enjoying cut price coffee and brought-along biscuits and cake is a compelling combination. I enjoy the opportunity to work alongside people and plants with such diverse backgrounds! Giving of my time freely means I have a feeling of contributing to the community, with the added bonus of working at something I love doing, especially at times of the year when things are traditionally quiet in my own garden.
Being a volunteer means I also qualify for a free t-shirt! Worn as a badge of honour and to utilise throughout the year, with shorts on summer days and over waterproofs on inclement occasions. Volunteers are snazzily dressed and some can extend the ‘shorts-wearing’ season even longer than postmen.
I think it fair to say St Andrews is not your typical Botanical Gardens. Unique, with its emphasis on urban, coastal and ecological projects running alongside the botanical ones, it also has a thriving engagement with children and families, in a fun, educational manner. I benefit from being a part of all this team interaction and 40% discount on plant sales on volunteer days helps too!
Perhaps now you are thinking, come on there must be some negatives to all this volunteering malarkey and of course you are right: Admittedly the overtime rates are not great! If you come by car on a wet day the loose car park surface can cling onto your gleaming bodywork. Oh yes, you will have to contend with cheery people who will make an enjoyable session go in really quickly!
- Sandy Pearson, St Andrews Botanic Garden Volunteer