Archive for March, 2013

Volunteering

There are many reasons why I’m not doing the practical element of my RHS course. None of those reasons is because I don’t need to.
It would also be really helpful to be around knowledgeable plantsmen. It’s not good that I am the expert round here.
So in order to gain a bit of practical knowledge I joined the squad of volunteers who help at Hughenden Manor estate. Today was my first day and it was fantastic.
The weather to a break from being weird and irritating and the whole morning was bathed in spring sunshine. After a couple of hours lugging barrows full of wood chip it was even warm enough for me to strip down to my last five layers.
The head gardener is a lovely, slightly eccentric German called Frank. He reassured me and fellow newbie Su, that the volunteer system is very relaxed and flexible. I’ve heard this kind of thing before from Germans trying to play it cool, but turn up late or mess with the seating plan at a dinner party and the smile freezes, as they try to find your wanton abandon of convention ‘amusing’. So time will tell on that one, but I’m less likely to screw with his planting arrangement than if he were Dutch.
Frank was clearly pleased with our enthusiasm and he was generous with his time band expertise, explaining why you shouldn’t use fresh wood chip as a mulch and how he selected tree planting.

I had a great time, learnt a lot, and met some very interesting, lovely people. Hope I still feel this way when I go back next week and it’s raining.