In Bed with a Mosquito

By Beth Weir

The odd sunny days of 2019 have beckoned those of us who like to garden, outside. Besides the pleasure of being in the yard, such a ritual also typically reminds us that we haven’t been all that physical for a while. Mostly, what we tend to find at this point in the year are bushes battered by winter and weeds – plants that are volunteering to fill up our carefully tended beds.

Weeds notwithstanding, the word volunteer has a round positive feeling to it, prompted, no doubt, by its primary meaning. Volunteering is the act of doing something without expectation of material reward. The satisfaction comes in the pleasure of making a difference. As a practice it has had some high-profile advocates. Ben Franklin is one. He created the first volunteer fire department in 1736 to protect Philadelphia from conflagration.  Agatha Christie took time off from writing her mysteries to serve as a volunteer nurse during WWI.

Fortunately, volunteering is an act embraced by regular citizens too. According to the Corporation for National Community Service, 25.3 percent of Americans volunteer. This amounts to 62.8 million volunteers. They average 32.1 volunteer hours per person, per year, which comes to 7.9 billion hours of service, the equivalent of $184 billion. Not to be sneezed at.

The reason this particular Dunn Gardens blog is about volunteering is that March is the month when our prime volunteers, the docents, gather in preparation for another season. It is worth mentioning here that the garden regards those who offer tours to the public as family. If you find yourself with some time on your hands and have an interest in gardens and plants, then you are welcome to join the program and the said family.

In case you are wondering—many of our docents arrive with insecurities. Typically, they are nervous about their plant knowledge and ability to handle a group. To which the docent leaders say, give it some time and we can help with all of that. Personally, I like Betty Reese’s amusing comment in regard to insecurities. “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” 

If being a docent does not appeal then the garden can employ you in another fashion–as in removing the volunteer plants no one wants. (And more.)

Call the office 206-362-0933 and talk to Amanda about being part of the docent program or a general volunteer.  She will be happy to chat.

And to end consideration of the topic of volunteering there can be no better thought than that posited by the bard himself. Shakespeare stated: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” The Dunn would be very happy for you to give your gifts away in the garden. We believe you may find doing so in among our green and pleasant abundance has its own reward.