Got green fingers? Like meeting people? Have a bit of spare time on your hands? Live within a reasonable distance of Kew Gardens? If so, the world famous gardens might be just the place for a spot of volunteering.
Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Kew's 121-hectare gardens are home to more than 30,000 kinds of plants, as well as millions of preserved plant specimens.
Receiving an average of two million visitors each year, it's hardly a surprise that they need some extra pairs of hands to keep the place looking so blooming great.
Kew Gardens runs a volunteer programme giving you the opportunity to learn new skills as well as meeting others interested in botany and horticulture.
There are all kinds of opportunities available for anyone interested in lending a hand, including:
- guiding - you could be showing small groups of visitors around the grounds; helping visitors with their enquiries; explaining about the gardens; helping those with special needs on bus tours around the gardens; driving a bus around the gardens...
- gardening - if you feel more comfortable with a trowel in your hand than explaining the intricacies of plant life to curious members of the public, you'll be pleased to know that Kew also needs horticultural helpers who would like to assist gardeners with their work.
- helping with school groups - Kew welcomes many schoolchildren to its gardens and needs volunteers to provide orientation for these groups. There's also the chance to help with activity tours, workshops, educational games and so on.
- assisting in the Herbarium - you'll likely get hands-on with some delicate specimens (so better for those with green fingers rather than butter fingers), as well as having the chance to help with things such as geo-referencing, labelling, cataloguing, and so on.
In return for your efforts, there are some fantastic benefits such as free entry into Kew Gardens and also the beautiful Wakehurst country estate in West Sussex. You'll also benefit from discounts on food and merchandise at Kew, and get free entry into some popular London attractions. Besides all that, you should also have fun meeting like-minded people!
Volunteers at Kew usually help out one day or one half day a week. For many it's an invaluable learning experience, as well as a chance to engage with members of the public to share the beauty of these amazing gardens.