Bullington Gardens is blessed to have many wonderful volunteers who give their time, love and hard work in an effort to keep the gardens beautiful for our many visitors and students. This month we are highlighting Nancy Gilchrist as our Volunteer Hero.
How did you first get involved with Bullington Gardens?
Back in 2008, a trip to Bullington Gardens was a portion of Extension’s Master Gardeners’ training program. In spite of getting a little lost on the way here, it seemed like an interesting place for future exploration. Once back at Extension, and still in MG training, an introduction to two ladies looking for help with grant writing for Bullington sealed the deal for a rather shy newcomer. That was my first actually comfortable day with the ‘crowd’ of fellow MG trainees. I am still grateful to those two ladies, Donna Hastie and Jane Davis, for opening the door to this amazing, peaceful place.
Why do you volunteer?
Like so many volunteers, my other life was in a full-time career that left little time for much other than work, family, and of course, our own garden. After retirement and relocation from Colorado, there was all that time to be filled. Slow to adapt, evidently I was driving my husband, Gary Gilchrist, BG ‘hoop meister’ and another staunch Bullington advocate and volunteer, a little crazy. While he had taken to retirement like a duck to water, my transition took longer. An early part-time job in Brevard filled about a year and provided time to become a little more comfortable with our ‘Southern adventure’. It also introduced us to some dear friends and Brevard Music Center. Still not enough, getting into the MG program looked like a good second step to get into the community, and of course, that led to volunteering.
Why do you choose to donate your time to Bullington?
After the entry MG training, Bullington was the perfect combination of continuing education by learning to garden in horticultural conditions the opposite of Colorado’s zone 5, high, dry, climate and alkaline soils; working with and learning to communicate with folks outside the academic life with little interest in campus facilities or capital construction issues (former life); and the satisfaction of contributing to something beautiful and that helps others. As we’ve all learned, WNC functions on volunteers from Habitat for Humanity to IAMs to adult tutoring and so many more. For someone able to relax and lose countless hours in the gardens, Bullington is my natural choice.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering at Bullington Gardens?
For me, it’s the serene, peaceful, welcoming environment, the friendships, and the gardens themselves. Of course, these are followed closely by the inspiration that comes from watching the magic John and others work with the kids, like we say – of all ages and abilities.
What do you find most challenging about volunteering at Bullington Gardens?
As a young and growing non-profit, we certainly have our share of challenges. One the greatest of these is the constant need for funds. We have gardens filled with heart (Jane, thank you for coining our signature phrase), enthusiasm, and hard-working volunteers who don’t count the cost of dirty hands and sore backs. As John has said more than once, we have an amazing assortment of talented people that come together to make Bullington work. What we never have enough of is money to extend our presence and programs to the folks of Henderson County.
What do you wish other people knew about Bullington Gardens?
I wish we were a less well-kept secret. Years of advertising, getting out into the community, putting out sale flags, and pretty much singing-from-the-rooftop are beginning to have an effect. Bullington Gardens is here, Henderson County. Please come visit. The gardens themselves will take you by the hand after that.
When you are not volunteering, what are some of your hobbies or commitments?
What? Is there a time when we’re not volunteering? Oh yeah, Christmas, and maybe a vacation or two thrown in for family visits and the occasional trip back to the Rocky Mountain West. Then there is the tug-of-war between which garden gets attention when the weather allows – BG or our own. Guess which one usually wins.