Wildlife Gardener Chris

Volunteer Chris Dove in Gosling Sike Garden Willow Weaving. Jody Ferguson

Wildlife Gardener, Chris Dove shares his enjoyment of volunteering in the Wildlife garden at Gosling Sike and describes some of the many benefits that volunteering provides.

I started volunteering in the wildlife garden at Gosling Sike in the summer of 2018. I had previously done some volunteering on reserves, and this felt a good opportunity to support a worthwhile new project that was close to home. At that time, the garden was an expanse of bare ground and a planting plan. It has been very satisfying to have played a small part in the transformation that has taken place over the past two years.

At a practical level, my involvement has been with the basic tasks, such as weeding, mulching and planting out. I am far from being an expert gardener, but a great thing about volunteering with the Trust is that it doesn’t really matter. You can learn as you go, and the Trust is really supportive. I’ve had lots of opportunities to try new things, including laying a willow hedge, weaving hazel hurdles, and putting up a cleft oak fence. Over time, I have also become more involved in supporting the centre manager in the management of volunteer days.

Volunteer Chris Dove in Gosling Sike Garden Willow Weaving

Volunteer Chris Dove in Gosling Sike Garden Willow Weaving. Jody Ferguson

Volunteering in the garden is also a great opportunity to enjoy the garden itself and the wildlife in it. Working in the garden teaches you to appreciate wildlife “in the moment”, whether it is a goldfinch on a teasel, dragonflies landing by the pond, shieldbugs and caterpillars amongst the vegetation, or bumble bees and hoverflies feeding from the flowers. I have learned to appreciate invertebrates more, and enjoy the opportunities to learn about them from other staff and volunteers.

Community engagement is central to the garden’s ethos. I have been lucky enough to volunteer alongside community groups, and to have the satisfaction of seeing how time spent in the garden contributes to the wellbeing of others.

Volunteering is very sociable activity, and I enjoy meeting and working alongside other volunteers and staff. As I am outside most of the time I also find myself being “front of house”. Over the past year of the pandemic, the local community has taken comfort and pleasure from visiting the garden. The interest and appreciation they have shown been especially satisfying.

I find volunteering at Gosling Sike immensely rewarding. Much is being said about how time spent outdoors and in nature contributes to our wellbeing. That is certainly true of my experience working in the garden.

Volunteer Chris Dove in Gosling Sike Garden

Volunteer Chris Dove in Gosling Sike Garden. Jody Ferguson