I retired after 27 years working with the Irish Times in Belfast and now spend a lot of time gardening at home, tennis, pottery, swimming, pilates, aerobics and walking with husband, George.
I started as a volunteer in Mount Stewart one sunny August, after meeting two of the gardeners in the Italian Garden. They were obviously enjoying their work so much that I went over to speak to them. They chatted about what their jobs entailed and were so enthusiastic I thought I would love to be involved. Fifteen minutes later, after speaking to the man in charge, I was a volunteer gardener.
One project I have been involved with is writing a weekly Volunteer’s Diary, which is on display in Reception. This, hopefully, is instructive and light-hearted as I try to relay what we have learned and done during the day. I take a ‘photo of the day’ which could be a project or a stunning flower or plant or just anything that is happening at Mount Stewart on that day.
We work in all areas of the Gardens so we get an amazing amount of detail on when and how to prune, propagation, taking cuttings, when to plant different bulbs, staking correctly, spacing of plants and endless information on general gardening.
Volunteering at Mount Stewart has been one of my best decisions. I look forward to Wednesdays and never miss a day if I can possibly help it. We all work hard and have great fun, winter and summer. The gardeners are wonderful and treat us like gold dust, there is a lot of laughing, banter, advice and knowledge about gardening, generously given and a great sense of comradeship shared. We all just love it.
Anyone who would like to get involved should come and try a day volunteering at Mount Stewart. I can guarantee you will be completely hooked on this volunteering experience.
Interested in volunteering like Jill? Click here for more information about how you can join us.