Alison proves it's not all about cake at Nymans

Meet Alison Carver who enjoys volunteering at Nymans as a garden ranger © Nymans

Meet Alison Carver who enjoys volunteering at Nymans as a garden ranger

Alison Carver
Volunteer garden ranger
Nymans garden team

We have over 300 volunteers in a range of roles across Nymans, both in front of and behind the scenes. We have welcomed over 40 new volunteers into the ranks this year alone. The work our volunteers do varies enormously, from the garden rangers on hand to answer questions in the garden, to the photography volunteers standing by to snap our special moments.

We depend on the help of all of our volunteers to make Nymans the special place that it is, and for all their hard work, we reward them with cake. Here to prove it's not all about the cake is garden ranger and team leader Alison Carver.

Alison: I became a garden ranger last spring having taken early retirement from a full-on management job. I visit Nymans every week, usually on a Wednesday, and my role is to give visitors a warm and friendly welcome, answer their questions about the garden, point out what's looking particularly good and explain what the gardeners are up to. I'm part of a team of 20+ Rangers who you will see out and about in the garden, having a chat with visitors or offering advice, especially if they are looking a bit lost.

We give guided walks twice a day and occasionally offer specialist walks too. Last autumn I organised a programme of seasonal highlights walks and am now looking after our monthly introduction to gardening programme of talks for novice gardeners. This year we are also planning to offer spring walks around the Wild Garden, an often forgotten part of Nymans.

For me, it's a delight coming to Nymans each week and seeing what's changed, sharing my enthusiasm for this fantastic garden with visitors, extending my knowledge about plants and trees and picking up tips from the gardeners to help me in my own, more modest garden in Horsham.

When I'm not at Nymans...

I also volunteer as a befriender for a partially sighted neighbour and am a board member of a London Housing Association but I wouldn't miss my day out in the fresh air at Nymans.

More about our introduction to gardening series

On roughly the 3rd Thursday of each month, our team of knowledgeable volunteer garden rangers host free introduction to gardening walks and talks. With a different topic each month, they cover a range of interest areas and share practical knowledge and advice about gardening, learnt from Nymans garden team, and practices for visitors to apply at home. Learn about plant varieties for seasonal interest, advice for beginners on rose and bulb care, the art of composting and seed harvesting and many more hints and tips to try in your own oasis.

We gather each month at about 1pm for about 1-1.5 hours of information sharing, usually a walk, and occasionally a practical demonstration. These sessions are free (normal garden admission applies) and a wonderful opportunity to ask your questions and enjoy a behind the scenes look at our gardening practices from some of our friendly and passionate volunteers.

Check our welcome leaflet when you next visit, or our online events list to find out when these sessions are on and be sure to reserve your place (spaces are limited).