A call for volunteers in Qualicum Beach

Milner Gardens and Woodland in Qualicum Beach, one of Canada’s top 10 public gardens, is looking for volunteers who enjoy horticulture and gardening, and interacting with the public.

Executive Director Geoff Ball invites community members to a Volunteer Opportunity Day on Saturday, March 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. to find out what opportunities are available.

“We invite anyone interested in volunteering to drop in and meet current volunteers and staff, tour the gardens and see how they can help the gardens grow,” says Ball.

“Volunteering at Milner Gardens is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to meet new friends, learn new skills and participate in making Milner Gardens a world-class venue. All it takes is a few hours of time on a regular basis.”

Milner Gardens currently has a core group of about 200 community volunteers who assist with a variety of tasks from leading garden tours throughout forested trails in the 70-acre woodland setting, serving tea in the historic Camelia teahouse, staffing the gift shop, tending and maintaining the estate garden.

“Many of our volunteers enjoy interacting with school-aged children and serve as mentors for our popular Shoots and Roots educational program,” adds Ball. “They love teaching students about how to plant, tend and harvest food and look after other native and non-native plants.”

Other volunteers assist in Milner’s front entrance area where they welcome visitors and drive guests around the property in a motorized golf cart. Volunteers also help with marketing and promotions of the gardens as a tourist destination, assist with public plant sales at the on-site nursery, or help prune, tend and maintain the gardens.

“Of course, our volunteers play a crucial role in making our special events a success, from Milner Christmas Magic to our spring Easter events,” adds Ball.

All new volunteers are given an orientation session, and receive hands-on training and basic horticultural knowledge. Volunteers enjoy special invitations to events and courses, and gain the satisfaction of being part of creating an exciting community-oriented project.

To become a volunteer, interested parties must fill out a volunteer application form (available online) and either drop it off at the garden or mail it in.

Milner Gardens & Woodland, located between Parksville and Qualicum Beach at 2179 West Island Highway, is home to a protected old-growth Douglas fir forest and an established estate garden which includes more than 400 Rhododendron specimens.

— Submitted by VIU/Milner Gardens

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