From childhood visits to garden digs

Rowan a gardening volunteer a Ickworth Suffolk is digging up potatoes in the Walled Garden

Learn about Rowan's volunteering story from visiting with his family as a child to getting stuck in with the gardening team.

What first drew you to Ickworth and this role?

I've always known that I wanted to work outside and my parents took me to many National Trust properties as a child, in particular Ickworth and I really enjoyed visiting the gardens. Whilst in my GCSE year I decided to get some work experience and approached Ickworth to find out if there were any volunteer opportunities for 15 year olds to help in the gardens. I was very pleased to find out that there was an opportunity at that time.

What’s your favourite thing about Volunteering in this team?

The whole gardening team and volunteers made me feel very welcome, despite being younger than all of them and they have been very supportive in helping me gain knowledge and experience towards my horticultural qualification as part of my education. However, my most favourite thing about volunteering with this team is that they have really helped me build my confidence in all aspects both personally and professionally.

Was Volunteering at Ickworth what you expected? Anything that you weren’t expecting?

I originally thought it would be a lot of weeding and grass cutting, but I have found out that there is a lot more variety to what the gardeners can do. I have learnt about pruning, topiary, espaliers, made scarecrows, harvested fruits and vegetables to be used in the house kitchens and helped maintain the gardens of the holiday cottages within the grounds amongst other things. I also helped out at the Wood Fair in October and the Summer Fair in June.

I wasn't expecting the social side, but have really enjoyed the Christmas meal and Summer BBQ in the walled garden. 

What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering in the gardens?

If anyone was thinking about volunteering in the gardens I would highly recommend it. It is very rewarding, you learn lots, the team is very friendly and supportive and you get to look at stunning views whilst carrying out your work.

Would you recommend Volunteering for the National Trust?

I would recommend volunteering with the National Trust as you are helping to preserve areas of England's natural beauty and places of historical importance. I absolutely love going to Ickworth and feel very happy when I am there.

Get in touch with us and search our opportunities

How about joining our team? You just need to be warm, friendly and have a love of people - we'll teach you the rest. To find out more about getting involved, pick from one of the following:

Whichever you choose, you'll get plenty of advice and information to help you decide.