Volunteering For Victory

One of the question we get asked most often by visitors to Chartwell is how many people work in our gardens to keep them looking so wonderful (their words, not mine!) That is always a very tricky question to accurately answer for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the number of paid garden staff has been constantly fluctuating in recent months. Ann, Ben and myself were recently taken on as full time staff members a couple of months ago, although I’m still technically training as part of the National Trust Careership scheme. On top of that, Rhiannon our Academy trainee, is coming to the end of her course and will be replaced by another 1 year Academy student in September. However, Rhiannon is being kept on at Chartwell as part of the new 2 year Diploma trainee position! See, I told you it was a tricky question to answer!

Secondly, as well as the garden staff, we are very lucky to have a large group of volunteers here at Chartwell and we couldn’t possibly run the garden and maintain it to such a high standard without them. There are volunteers purely for the Kitchen Garden and another larger group for the garden as a whole. One week a month they swap their roles though, so that everyone gets to see all aspects of gardening at Chartwell. We also have a group of Garden Steward volunteers who interact with the visitors more directly, answering questions, pointing people in the right direction and in some cases giving guided garden tours. Most of our volunteers come and work with us for one day each week throughout the whole year, with some having been here for longer than any of the staff! We try and make sure that our ‘vols’ have plenty of varied work to do each week, although there are obviously times of the year when tasks such as weeding and edging are simply the most pressing. The pictures below give a small glimpse into life as a garden volunteer here at Chartwell…

Len and Chris looking very pleased with their raised terrace building skills.
And rightly so!

Ron dons the waders and clears the Golden Orfe Pond of pond weed and algae

In the bakground one of our Garden Steward vols gives a garden tour for visitors, while in the foreground, Ali G (a former volunteer and now staff member) gets on with the nitty gritty weeding work!

The Kitchen Garden volunteers, here cleaning freshly dug potatoes for transport to the restaurant, answer to Donna for their daily jobs.

The health and well-being of our bees is overseen by Alan, a volunteer and bee expert. The Friday vols get to dress like spacemen every week so they can get up close and personal with the stripey anthophila…

Alison and Graham here picking the apples from trees they helped to prune earlier on in the year…

Gary (left) and Max (right) were two of the volunteers who helped Steve with a spot of hedge laying this year.

Repairing a worn path down by the Oscar Nemon statue was another job the volunteers got involved with recently.

Clearing brambles and scrub from around the old swimming pool reservoir in the Parkland is an on-going job that both staff and volunteers alike have gotten involved in…

Tony, Sally and Jan improvising with a spot of potting on, alfresco style!

If any of these jobs sounds like something you might be interesting in joining in with, then keep checking out this blog as well as the Chartwell website where we will be letting everyone know when there are any volunteering opportunities coming up here. I hope to see you in the gardens soon, either as a visitor or as a fully fledged Chartwell volunteer!

Jamie

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