Keith Robertshaw

Keith Robertshaw, Volunteer

Tell me about your experience volunteering at the University of Delaware Botanic Gardens. How long have you been a volunteer?

I have worked the plant sales at UDBG for the last 10 years and assisted the staff with a variety of individual projects such as plant identification for labeling purposes and fixing accession labels to trees. I first became involved at UDBG through the plant sales. I would come to the fall and spring sales each year to see which plants I could add to my collection of woody plants. I picked up a lot of information from the experts at the plant sales and I wanted to share this knowledge with others. I am especially interested in encouraging people to try growing plants they haven’t grown before such as camellias.

What type of Camellia would you recommend for our new growers?

Camellia ‘Snow Flurry’ is a great plant to start with. It’s part of the winter series. The plant is fall blooming, multi-petalled with gorgeous white flowers, and grows to around 6 feet tall.

What sparked your interest in volunteering and where else do you volunteer?

Volunteering is a way to gain and give knowledge and it’s also a way for everyone to work together on a project to accomplish a common goal. As I obtain knowledge about plant material, I feel more comfortable sharing it with others. I have been taking classes at Longwood Gardens for more than 3 years and at other organizations such as Mt. Cuba. I also volunteer at Scott Arboretum and Tyler Arboretum in addition to UDBG. I am working on obtaining my certificate in Ornamental Horticulture and I hope to take part in Delaware County’s Master Gardener Program in 2019.

Tell me more about your volunteer duties. What do you enjoy about these tasks?

I enjoy being outdoors, physically exerting myself, working with people, observing plants, and asking questions. I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. I am willing to do anything to help in the gardens.

What are you most passionate about in life?

I am passionate about gardening, athletics, and traveling. I have been a women’s soccer coach for eighteen years and have traveled to all 50 states and eighty countries. 

Tell me something people might not know about you.

I specialize in hardy camellias and have 39 different hardy camellia cultivars in my collection. I also have a small greenhouse where I keep another 20 plants for winter flowers. My wife loves when I go out to the greenhouse in the snow and return with a basket of beautiful flowers to float in a dish on our dining room table. 

What piece of advice would you offer to people interested in volunteering at UDBG?

You will enjoy volunteering at UDBG if you are passionate about gardening, working hard, and getting your hands dirty. The UDBG has a great staff and all the other volunteers are very knowledgeable. It’s fun!