Welcome to the first #GardenGreetings post. I’m Antonio, interning at Wistariahurst Museum, and throughout the year, I’ll be highlighting various gardeners that volunteer at Wistariahurst Gardens. The gardeners voluntarily work in the gardens every Tuesday and Friday through the Master Gardener Association or on their own. Gardener Joyce is the first gardener up for GardenGreetings. She started volunteering here eight years ago. She found a mental and physical attraction towards the garden that inspired her to volunteer. Despite not being a Master Gardener, Joyce volunteers every Tuesday and Friday always looking for room to learn and improve. She likes gardening so much, she will move her appointments around just to find time to volunteer. Joyce has many experiences to share…
Tell me something special about the garden.
It’s just the overall physical and mental attraction that came here. I just love it. I retired back in 2010, and I knew I wanted to do something voluntarily. I’ve always loved gardening, but to a minimum. I started volunteering inside. I gradually started to come out and see the garden and asked if I could go outside and volunteer. The rest is history. I love the group. I love to learn.
Why do you garden?
The beauty of it. Friends of mine have moved to warmer climates and always asked me ‘Why do you stay over there in the wintertime?’ My passion for waiting for spring to arrive. It’s almost like a rebirth of life.
What is blooming in your garden today?
My begonias. My hostas are gorgeous. Some of them I am going to eliminate. With gardening, it’s almost like you’re painting something. It’s a constant change and rearranging, like painting. For example, my favorite in the Spring is Solomon’s Seal: they’re tall, graceful, and they have beautiful white flowers hanging off the branch flowers with a weeping green. It’s beautiful. One thing I do regret doing is write down what I have and what I don’t. I started to do it this year, but I have so many plants.
What grows in your dream garden?
Because of the fragrance I know we’re not going to get up here. It’s too cold. It’s really a Southern flower.
What is your major challenge as a gardener?
To just keep learning. That’s all I can say. To keep learning and finding new flowers, new places.
How do you compare the maintenance with your garden versus this one?
I wish I could give more to my garden than I do with [Wistariahurst]. I’m only limited to two hours to work in my garden in nighttime. I’m limited in my own garden, but I still do work. I dedicate more in Wistariahurst.
What advice do you have for people who want to start gardening for the first time?
I would say ‘Give it a whirl’, but you gotta have a love of the soil. I’ve had friends who come down here and say, ‘I’m not putting my hands in soil.’ If you don’t wanna do that, then don’t even think about it, but you can volunteer inside. You gotta make the commitment. I’ve had friends who’ve only volunteered two or three times and just stopped coming. If you going to commit yourself, at least give it more than two times.
Describe your experience gardening at Wistariahurst.
Just overall learning. The knowledge that I learned about plants, how to take care of them, what not to do. The Master Gardeners are a group that are so knowledgeable. There’s four or five of us, who aren’t Master Gardeners, but if you’re working alongside one, and you don’t know what a certain plant is, it doesn’t take long for a Master Gardener to show you. It’s a whole learning possibility.
Antonio Quiñones Negroni is a student at University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez at his second year of internship at Wistariahurst Musuem. Antonio loves to find creepy objects in the corners of the museum.
The volunteer gardeners meet Tuesday and Fridays, 9 a.m. – noon. To support the volunteer garden efforts, please consider a donation to Historic Holyoke at Wistariahurst.