Brookgreen Gardens volunteers give their time, work, and love to all areas of the Gardens. We count on them for many jobs. They are some of the first people you see when visiting our Welcome Center, they provide tours and answer questions from guests.
Many programs at Brookgreen have come about because of ideas from our volunteers. Nights of a Thousand Candles actually started as a volunteer initiative! While our volunteers all have specific teams and areas of the garden where they serve, volunteers also take on jobs that are above and beyond their usual duties.
That is just what volunteers Jack Houston, Riley Reynolds, and Arnie Cribb did this year. They noticed that many of Brookgreen’s water features were lacking plants. They spoke with our horticulture department and asked if they could work on some of the pools. Sara Millar, Vice President of Horticulture and Katherine Rowe, Director of Horticulture welcomed their help.
Jack, Riley, and Arnie began with the pool around Anna Hyatt Huntington’s sculpture The Visionaries. The transformation of a beautiful pool to a stunning water garden is a wonderful homage to our founders, who are portrayed in the sculpture surrounded by the things they loved.
When asked what their motivation was, Riley responded, "to add more romance to the Garden.” They have certainly accomplished their goal! Our guests stop to take pictures and admire the aquatic plants. Jack says, “It is like landscaping on a mirror.”
The project began by cleaning out the pool. They then worked with the horticulturists to gather plant material. Irises and lotus plants were relocated from other water features where they needed thinning out. New water lilies and papyrus from the horticulture department were added to cover the front part of the pool. The plants have quickly grown and filled out beautifully.
The three men maintain the water garden, by netting out leaves and trimming away faded foliage and spent flowers. Crawfish love aquatic vegetation, so to keep them from feasting on the plants, the men made crawfish traps from plastic orange juice bottles. We then relocate the crawfish to our zoo - the otters love to play with them!
All of our volunteers are from interesting backgrounds. These three are no different. Riley Reynolds a retired optician and has volunteered at Brookgreen for many years. He is a mentor to new volunteers and two of his mentees joined him for this project. Jack Houston worked as a project manager with Rock and WaterScaping in California. He created a water garden in his back yard and friends asked him to work the same magic in their yards. Jack went out on his own building water gardens until he retired and moved to Surfside Beach three years ago. Last fall he began volunteering at Brookgreen. Arnie Cribb is a retired chemical engineer and worked in nuclear power plants and the nuclear Navy. He helped his father with a landscape business and has always enjoyed working with plants. He began volunteering at Brookgreen Gardens two years ago, helping with Nights of a Thousand Candles, working with our horticulture staff in Bethea’s Heritage Farm Garden and more.
Thanks to Riley, Jack, and Arnie for making this beautiful water garden happen, and thanks to all our volunteers for making Brookgreen Gardens the special place that it is! If you are interested in volunteering at Brookgreen Gardens, let us know! We know we have something you will love to do. Link to Volunteer information HERE.