A big Bodnant ‘Thank You’ to student volunteers

We’ve had some extra helping hands at Bodnant Garden this summer. Students have been spending some of their down-time with us to gain work experience – one of them from Snowdonia and two others from a little further afield near the Italian Dolomites.

Local lad GethinMullock-Jones has been assisting Charlie Stretton, our events and engagement officer, with the summer family events – and very welcome he’s been too (as you can see here, pictured with his own work of art.)

Gethin is a student at Ysgol y Creuddyn in Llandudno and volunteering at Bodnant Garden as part of his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award.

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Gethin helping children make dragonfly mobiles

He says: “I like volunteering here because I have met many great people. The staff and members of the public always greet you with a smile.

“I have been helping with pond dipping at the newer part of the gardens – the Skating Pond – every Tuesday as part of Grow Wild in August. I have enjoyed helping the children discover what interesting creatures there are here.

“I like the different opportunities I get here with the National Trust at Bodnant Garden, whether its pond dipping, Wild Art or even making little dragonflies!”

Gethin’s input has been a real boost, as Charlie says: “One aspect of our work here is growing fast, and that’s providing events and activities for families. We need more volunteers than ever to help with running pond dipping, craft and wild art sessions, taking children on nature walks, or showing them the bugs and beasties that live in the grasslands here.

“So we have been especially pleased to welcome Gethin to help out with our children’s activities. He’s proved a real asset to us, and shown maturity and initiative in working with families and children.”

We’ve also enjoyed the company of two Italian students helping us in the garden. Jacopo Pedol and Stefania Moro have joined the garden team for two weeks, coming all the way from the Veneto region, close to the Dolomites.

Jacopo and Stefania – at home on our Italianate terraces!

They’re both hoping to make careers in horticulture in the future and have been getting some work experience, as well as improving their English (and learning some Welsh). They’ve been a friendly and enthusiastic addition to the team and have enjoyed meeting staff, other volunteers and members of the public.

Charlie says: “We couldn’t do without volunteers here at Bodnant Garden, and it’s always a pleasure to welcome a new person who is willing to give up their own time to help us out.

“This could be meeting and greeting visitors in the car park, helping puzzled people to make sense of their map, guiding groups round the garden, or actually getting their hands dirty weeding, pruning and grass cutting.”

If you’re interested in gaining some work experience at Bodnant Garden or joining our team of regular volunteers we’d love to hear from you. Contact our property administrator Rose James.

Meanwhile, for all those budding gardeners…we’re also recruiting students for a placement at Bodnant Garden starting from September. As part of the Heritage Horticulture Skills Scheme there are 14-month and 4-month placements available at Bodnant and other top gardens in Wales. The deadline for applications is the end of August and you can find details at info@HHSS.co.uk

For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or catch up with us on Facebook  or Twitter.

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Gardening with the cream of the crop

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  Calling green-fingered hopefuls – here’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn the garden trade alongside the cream of the crop…and this could be your classroom!

  New students are being invited for the Heritage Horticulture Skills Scheme, which offers placements at the best gardens and parks in Wales, including ours.

  Students who secure a place at Bodnant Garden will get the chance to work on the Laburnum Arch – which draws around 40,000 visitors during its three-week flowering in May. They will also get chance to hone their gardening skills on the grand rose terraces, among giant old Champion Trees and a historic plant collection gathered from all around the globe.

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  Our property administrator Rose James says: “If you fancy learning and training alongside the very best gardeners at Bodnant Garden or other high calibre gardens in Wales this scheme is for you. The deadline for applications is June 27 so don’t miss this fantastic opportunity.”

  The HHSS is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and offers traineeships at Bodnant Garden and Dyffryn Gardens (National Trust), at Aberglasney, Picton Castle, and with Newport City Council, Cardiff City Council and St Fagans Natural History Museum.

   Starting in September, up to 16 chosen trainees will get a £10,000 bursary from Lantra for 14-month placements at these organisations, where they will receive practical training in specialised, heritage horticultural techniques.

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  One of our recent HHSS students has now gone on to work at a national gardening magazine; others have gone on to permanent jobs at other National Trust gardens.

  One of last year’s Bodnant trainees Richard Marriott, now working at Norbury Manor National Trust, says: “I learnt so much at Bodnant. The scheme is a fantastic mixture of theory and countless opportunities for hands-on gardening. It’s an invaluable opportunity to gain real life horticultural skills in a world class garden. It is great for your CV and stands you in good stead for a life long career in horticulture.”

  More information is available at Bodnant Garden on 01492 650460 or from the HHSS website at www.hhss.co.uk.

Let volunteering open up pastures new

 

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Volunteer Josh enjoying life down in The Dell

  How about this for a stunning workplace? If you’ve ever fancied being a volunteer at one of the finest gardens in the UK – like Josh here – Bodnant Garden has a big group hug waiting for you!

  Whether you could give the gardeners a hand, meet and greet visitors or have any other unique, weird or wonderful skills to offer, we welcome anyone with time to give. 

  We’re holding a spring Volunteer Recruitment Day on Tuesday, May 6, when you can drop in and talk to staff and current volunteers about the many and varied opportunities available.  

  Josh Hackett is volunteering to gain experience for his horticultural career. He says: “Something which is not lost on any who have come to it, Bodnant Garden is an astonishingly beautiful place. It is truly, stunningly beautiful. It is really, really beautiful. This is something I want to emphasise to those considering volunteering at Bodnant.

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  “The term ‘volunteering’ might suggest selfless work and toil, but in fact I am committing myself to a place awash with colour, verdant foliage, birdsong and the sound of rushing water. The moment I step in, some primeval instinct latches upon the natural spectacle and releases waves of contentment. It is a day of refreshment in the centre of my week.

  “Very few people are fortunate enough to have such an opportunity, to escape the traffic and the screens and the buzzing of phones, or at least realise that they do (it is only five miles from Llandudno Junction). Of course you can come to Bodnant Garden simply as a visitor, but the quiet loyalty that comes with volunteering compels you to return. 

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Volunteers deadheading daffodils

  “Having spoken of a ‘natural spectacle’, I should make it very clear how much hard work goes into Bodnant Garden. The staff and volunteers are very friendly and caring, and trust you to treat things with the same diligence and conscientiousness as they do.

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Renovating the Yew Dell for opening in March

  “As well as the gentle humour that drifts around Bodnant, there is also a great wealth of knowledge about plants and I have learnt a great deal from others already. The tasks are not always glamorous, but being able to walk through the Dell at the end of the day and know that I’ve invested part of my time and effort into it is a fine feeling indeed. I would recommend volunteering at Bodnant to anyone and everyone.”

  We have around 30 garden volunteers like Josh who muck in with the team and help with all aspects of daily routine maintenance, help in the nursery and even work in the office engraving plant labels. 

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Helping with famiy craft days

  We also have around 40 visitor services volunteers who meet and greet coach parties, help with guided tours, assist with garden events from weddings to falconry displays, do carpentry and maintenance, tend bar at Walk and Wine evenings, run storytelling for children – and more. 

  As well as the chance to work in the beautiful surroundings of one of Britain’s most famous gardens, volunteers get free entry to National Trust properties in the UK and a discount card for National Trust outlets. They are also invited to regular staff meetings where they play a full part in discussion and planning. 

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You might even get the chance to play Santa!

   The Volunteer Recruitment Day takes place from 11am to 3pm. No booking is necessary, just drop in at the Volunteer Recruitment Cabin near the car park and meet volunteers and staff to find out what opportunities are available. 

   For more details about Bodnant Garden call 01492 650460, check out our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT

Join our happy gang at Bodnant Garden

Ever fancied being a volunteer at one of the finest gardens in the UK? Bodnant Garden is holding a Volunteer Recruitment Day on Thursday, September 5, when you can drop in and find out about the varied, weird and wonderful opportunities available.

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Running a children’s craft day

 Visitor Services Manager Ann Smith says: “Our volunteers are the lifeblood of Bodnant Garden. They help us in all every aspect of life, from gardening to engaging with visitors to catering to handiwork. They are part of the team here and have a huge input into all we do.”

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Keeping the refreshments flowing

Bodnant Garden has around 40 visitor services volunteers who meet and greet coach parties, help with guided tours, assist with garden events from weddings to falconry displays, do carpentry and maintenance, tend bar at Walk and Wine evenings, run storytelling for children – and more.

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Helping the gardeners

In addition there are 30 garden volunteers who muck in with the team and help with all aspects of daily routine maintenance, help in the nursery and even work in the office engraving plant labels. As well as the chance to work in one of Britain’s most famous gardens, volunteers get free entry to National Trust properties in the UK and a discount card for National Trust outlets. They are also invited to regular staff meetings where they play a full part in discussion and planning.

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Tending bar at evening events and manning plant sales…

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…and of course letting your hair down at the Christmas party!

Our Volunteer Recruitment Day takes place from 11am to 3pm. No booking is necessary. Call the office on 01492 650460 for details.

See our website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BodnantGardenNT for more about Bodnant Garden.

Growing ambition

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Nathan and Bodnant’s acting head gardener, Adam Salvin

We have many volunteers at Bodnant Garden. Some are retired people with time to give while others, like Nathan Lewis, are gaining valuable work experience in order to build their careers. This is Nathan’s story…

“If you want to be the best you have to be trained by the best” – in his own words, that was what drove Nathan Lewis to seek out work experience at Bodnant Garden. Nathan has just come to the end of six weeks volunteering at our National Trust garden near Conwy, which he’s been doing alongside studying at horticultural college.

You could say he’s got the gardening bug. The day after he finished at Bodnant he jetted off to Italy with a local community group to look at garden projects over there. Now back home in Llanrwst, he’s getting stuck in again with his studies, helping at his local allotment group and considering the next step in his horticultural career.

Nathan is a real advocate of the opportunities volunteering can bring. At 34 he has come to gardening in a roundabout way (like many of us). After a decade and some of various jobs, from carpentry to labouring, he decided to follow that nagging voice in his head and try for a job in horticulture…but where to start?

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Weeding in the Shrub Borders with Bodnant gardener Graeme

He says: “I had a hard think about what I really wanted to do. I have always enjoyed gardening, like my dad and taid – Taid used to take part in the Llanrwst Show with his vegetables. I love fruit and vegetable growing in my small garden too.”

Nathan got involved with Golygfa Gwydyr in Llanrwst, a non-profit, community organisation which provides opportunities for volunteering and training through activities based in the Gwydyr Forest – including a community garden growing fruit and veg.

Project officer Rosie Evans says: “Nathan has been involved with the garden from the start two years ago, coming along at weekends with his kids. He has sorted the soil for us and advised us what to plant and it’s doing well. He’s a star – I’ve made him my head gardener!”

Seeing his potential, Rosie encouraged Nathan to follow his ambitions and to enrol at Northop College where he is doing a Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture. Part of that has involved seeking out work experience…which is what brought him to Bodnant Garden.

In his six weeks at with us Nathan has mucked in with the garden team in all aspects of routine maintenance including weeding and maintaining beds, working with the arborists and cleaning out one of the pools. But it hasn’t been all routine – his favourite job was cutting back cornus on one of the islands which involved using a boat!

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Mucking in…Helping clean out the Deep Bath at Bodnant Garden

Nathan says: “The six weeks has been a great taster. It’s given me real experience of real gardening. I would recommend volunteering to everyone. It gives you hands-on experience and can be a way into work. You get just as much back as you put in, and more.”

In Nathan’s case, his recent tour of Italian gardens wasn’t a bad return for his efforts! The trip was funded by Golygfa Gwydyr through grant sources. That, and the time he’s spent at Bodnant Garden, has been the inspiration for Nathan to keep pushing forward with his ambitions.

If you are interested in volunteering at Bodnant Garden, whether gardening or visitor services, contact our office anytime on 01492 650460. You can also find out more about Golygfa Gwydyr by contacting Rosie Evans on 01492 642110.