Mary Gotsch

Mary Gotsch, Volunteer

You’ve been a member since 2010. How did you hear about the UDBG?

I first heard about the UDBG in a class I took at the Academy of Lifelong Learning. I started going to the Spring Sale to fulfill my desire to plant natives in my garden. It wasn’t until I met UDBG member and volunteer Dilly Schwartz in a knitting group that I became involved.  Dilly told me what she did at the UDBG and gave me the name of a contact. I was apprehensive my first time at a potting session, because I didn’t know if I had enough experience. Within 5 minutes, I felt confident and fit in with the other volunteers.

You’re a passionate gardener. Have you always been? What/who sparked your interest?

I had no exposure to gardening as a child. I grew up in Chicago where we had a yard the size of a postage stamp. My interest in gardening developed after I married and live in a house with a yard. By that time my parents had moved to Delaware, and became interested in gardening. My mother gave me perennials that she had divided, or “volunteer” shrubs she dug for me. I was hooked. I now find it a real joy when giving a plant from my garden that originally came from my parents.

You’ve been volunteering since the fall of 2009. What made you decide to get involved?

After I retired and with too much time on my hands, I wanted to volunteer and have some fun at the same time. The UDBG seemed the perfect solution, and I have enjoyed every minute.

What types of activities do you assist the UDBG with?

I volunteer both with potting and garden sessions, at which I plant, weed, prune and yank things out. I also assist at both the fall and spring plant sales. I now have a real appreciation for all the behind-the-scenes work necessary to ensure those wonderful plants are ready when the sale begins.

You volunteer at Winterthur, too. What do you do?

I volunteer from March through November, assisting a member of the gardening staff with whatever needs to be done. I work primarily in the Peony Garden and Winterhazel Walk. I’ve helped plant bulbs and azaleas, prune shrubs, rake leaves, dead head peonies and daylilies, and cut back bamboo. And there are always weeds to pull. One of the best perks of volunteering at Winterthur is the chance to see all the changes that take place in the landscape each week.

What’s it like to volunteer? Any regrets?

Volunteering at the UDBG has been a wonderful experience. Each time I learn something new from the UDBG staff and from the other volunteers. It’s a great group of people who enjoy gardening as much as I do and who freely share their gardening experiences. We also share plants from our home gardens. It never ceases to amaze me how much a group of people can accomplish in a two-hour garden session and have fun doing it. In the winter I enjoy participating in the indoor sessions, potting and propagating for the plant sales.  It gives me an opportunity to get my hands back in some soil at a time of year when I can’t work in my own yard.

It feels great to work as part of a team to keep the UDBG looking good and getting ready for the two annual sales. The only regret is not getting involved sooner!