Accompanying my recent rates notice from the Clarence City Council was a newsletter containing a story of gardening volunteers. In the absence of being able to continue volunteering at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) I offered my services. After police checks, statutory declarations and form filling, and a routine Occupational Health and Safety induction process I was eligible to start volunteering.
I had let the volunteering program Coordinator know of my limited experience only at the RTBG, in my own garden and in a small way in other gardens, and my limited knowledge only through completion of the two university gardening units last year. I claimed to be a slight bit above novice level but was good with weeds! Therefore I was surprised when she told me that I was more experienced than most; most of the others apparently mow lawns and not too much else. My job will be to weed, and I may prune, plant and mow depending on the circumstances. I have full control over how often I volunteer, when I volunteer, and for how long. This sort of flexibility will suit me well.
I am being allocated to a large garden at the home of a single elderly man. His garden and my ‘work’ there undoubtedly will give me new stories for this blog – I am expecting different soil, familiar plants in various conditions, unknown plants, along with new expectations of what a garden should look like.
This Council-run volunteering program is a terrific idea and I wonder if other local governments have a similar program. Perhaps my fellow RTBG volunteers might check their own areas out for something similar; at least as a stop gap until we are permitted to return to the RTBG.