Spring is no doubt one of the busiest times of the year in any garden. For us, the winter rains seem to be tapering off and the weeding (hopefully) will slow down. Visitors often comment that they hardly see any weeds in our gardens. This is, in large part, thanks to the crew of dedicated volunteers that come out each week. Many of the volunteers steward a favorite garden area and take great pride in keeping their area looking the best at all times.
In fact, stewarding garden areas has worked out so well, that we are encouraging other volunteers to pick an area. It’s not just weeding that needs to be done – there is a job for everyone, and besides, what other job lets you pick what you want to do?
The pocket gardens left by the military along the main roadway all have someone to tend them. One volunteer loves to pick out oxalis from a granite wall and encourages lichens and ferns to grow. It’s also a prime spot to talk with visitors. You can almost tell her height by the line of oxalis that is just out of grasp.
The compost pile draws its own characters of tough volunteers who faithfully turn the 4’x 4’ x 4’ piles each week and keep on top of the new vegetation debris constantly being added.
The rose terrace has another volunteer who focusses on watering by hand each of the roses and the greenhouse, while another volunteer loves to deadhead the roses to keep them blooming for months.
Other volunteers have found niches for themselves by pruning ivy off of railings, removing yellow leaves, dead flowers and broken stems from the ivy leaf pelargoniums in the 330’ long planter trough, or sweeping roadways.
Stewarding can also be seasonal – for example, as the oxalis finishes growing on the cell house slope, removing dead flowers (deadheading) from geraniums is just starting in other garden areas.
For parents trying to encourage kids to get hooked on gardening, giving the kids one plant that is ‘theirs’ might just be the way to give them not only the responsibility of keeping something alive, but they also get to experience the joy of seeing something that is flourishing because of them.