Cultivating confidence as a volunteer gardener

From a barren piece of ground and with the help of some lovely Spring weather, I have now managed to produce a few baskets of organic vegetables for the Aviator Café to use in their menus for their customers.

I have been the Volunteer Gardener at National Museum of Flight at East Fortune since March 2016. This volunteer project to cultivate the small garden has started this year for the first time and I am very proud to be involved from the start.

Viktoria in front of the garden she is currently working on.

I thought it would be exciting to volunteer for National Museums Scotland at the National Museum of Flight, as you are surrounded by so many interesting stories. Who doesn’t like aviators or aeroplanes?

A view inside one of the new hangars at the National Museum of Flight.

I immediately agreed to be a volunteer gardener, because I dream of having my own garden in the future. Volunteering with the gardening gave me a chance to learn these skills from zero, even though I didn’t feel extremely confident at first. I have learned a number of new gardening skills, I am practising my English and I am making new friends.


I’ve now suggested a number of flowers and plants to grow in this garden spot, which I think will cheer up this area. To go around the sides I’d look for plants that flower throughout the year, like the perennials Armeria Maritina.  I’ve also thought about some Lemon Thyme as it has a beautiful aroma, is not too tall and has soft-looking pink flowers.


In one of the corners I’d like to add a little yellow and am currently deciding what to place there, but I thought the Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunfire’ could be nice. However, I think we may need to go and have a look round our local garden centre and see what the best options are.


I think this volunteering has exceeded my expectations. When I decided to volunteer, I hoped to meet good people, do my best and become part of the team. It’s done this and has improved my self-confidence, as I am doing something that was completely new for me and gives me a new challenge.

I am most grateful for the chance to start the garden from nothing, and that I have help from the Museum staff. For example Debbie, National Museums Scotland Volunteers Coordinator, loves gardening and she always responds well to any gardening queries.  Linda, who is acting as my Volunteer Line-Manager, is very patient with me, as English is not my first language and she always finds some time to have a friendly chat.


Perhaps the most satisfying thing for me is to see the results of my work. I planted some seeds and after a few weeks it is an amazing reward to see them grow, after so much watering and care. What’s more, sometimes a few people just come to chat about what I am planting and encourage me.


Recently, it was an uncommonly hot sunny day and two little boys were playing near the garden, I think they were about two to three years old. Their mum was wondering what I was planting and we had a chat about gardening, where I am from and then she was telling me how her boys enjoyed the visit and had sent kisses to Concorde.

Then I heard one from these little boys call out to me saying: ‘Lady, lady, what are you doing?’ It made me smile, nobody that age normally addresses me so formally. So, I had to explain to him why I was slamming  the soil with the hoe.  I explained that it was because soil needs to breathe and the plants need air. He seemed satisfied with that answer and we bid farewell to each other with a wave.



I’d strongly recommend being a volunteer at National Museums Scotland. They have plenty of activities where your talent can be used or developed. I believe that anybody can find a role that suits them. I meet awesome people and I enjoy every day at the museum.

Also if you have any gardening tips you’d like to share, then get in touch. 


You can find out more about volunteering at National Museums Scotland here.

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