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 Gary Gilchrist as our Volunteer Hero.
How did you first get involved with Bullington Gardens?
When my wife, Nancy, became a Henderson County Master Gardener, she also became involved at Bullington and promptly urged me to volunteer here, too. Seems she thought I needed to get out of the house and perhaps my experience managing a garden center, would be a welcome addition.
Why do you volunteer?
Every day I see the positive impact Bullington has on students and adults, people from all walks of life, young and old. Volunteering is an opportunity to contribute something that I know about and be of help to others.
Why do you choose to donate your time to Bullington?
For me, it was a perfect match. I get to indulge my love for gardening and growing plants, and simultaneously, benefit a very worthy cause. It’s definitely a two-way street allowing me to share my knowledge of horticulture and at the same time, learn the many differences between gardening in the Southeast vs gardening in the Rocky Mountain West.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering at Bullington Gardens?
Besides feeling that I’m making a difference, the friends I’ve made at Bullington are something I will always cherish. Special people volunteer here, and it’s great to be among them.
What is a memorable moment about your work with us?
Over the last 13 years, there have been so many. Whenever I see a young person working in the garden or on the grounds, learning, growing things, and talking about them with a smile on their face, that’s memorable.
What do you find most challenging about volunteering at Bullington Gardens?
There is a lot of work to be done, and it’s a bit frustrating to realize that I’m not doing it as easily as just five years ago. That said, I can’t say enough about the way everybody here is always ready to pitch in and help, whatever the task. It seems, to a person, we get sore, dirty, wet, bitten, and then come back and do it all again, all with a smile for fellow volunteers.
What do you wish other people knew about Bullington Gardens?
That we’re here. Come enjoy the gardens. If you like any aspect of gardening, volunteer. If you have any of a wide range of skills, come volunteer (haven’t found much that doesn’t fit in yet). It’s the best hard work you’ll ever love.
When you are not volunteering, what are some of your hobbies or commitments? What did you do in your previous life?
After graduating college with a degree in Forestry and Natural Resources, followed by an all-too brief stint with the Forest Service in Colorado, I wound up working retail. Literally half a hundred years ago, it was grocery, mostly produce. Consistently drawn to things that grow, after that I managed a large garden center for a discount chain for over twenty years. When not at Bullington, of course there is our own landscape and, except for this year, Brevard Music Center has been a constant summer companion, since before we even moved here permanently. Being a voracious reader, I have an extensive library for both books and music. In early retirement, I grabbed pad and pen and wrote several speculative fiction books. Someday, the last five or six might be published, but no hurry. Not much for international travel, we have traveled extensively throughout all 50 states. Of course, every few years, the Rocky Mountain West calls and we pack up the car and drive into the sunset.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering at Bullington Gardens?
Come see us. Meet everybody and find out if you’d like to be a part of what we do here. There really is something for nearly everyone, especially if you enjoy gardening.