Even with all the jobs to be done on the boat, visitors planning to come out and exploring around, I knew that I wasn’t going to find it easy staying in Gibraltar for three months without something to give me a sense of purpose.
Before we arrived I looked for volunteering opportunities on the internet and the first thing that came up was at the Alameda, Gibraltar’s Botanical Gardens. Stefan and I had walked through the Gardens on our very brief visit to Gibraltar when we did our sailing course and I remembered it as a beautiful oasis tucked up above the town. The idea of whiling away a few hours there really appealed so I got in touch and as soon as we arrived arranged to meet with Chris Gilder, who is responsible for the garden’s educational activities. Before I knew it I was going back to help out at the Alameda Gardening Club, an after school club for primary age children running on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Chris and her colleague, Andrew, are incredibly passionate advocates for all things horticulture and in particular enthusing the next generation of gardeners. Most children in Gibraltar do not have gardens and the club enables them to learn about growing plants and vegetables as well as thinking more about their environment.
During the period before Christmas, when the weather wasn’t so great and there wasn’t so much to be planted in the gardens, we were occupied with making Christmas decorations. Chris is spearheading a project to build a biodome, a dedicated space to safeguard the educational activities at the gardens and give the children somewhere purpose built and safe to propagate and grow their plants. As part of the fundraising for the biodome, they were selling recycled Christmas trees and we set about making decorations for them from all sorts of recycled materials. Pintail was proud to have one of the trees for our Christmas in Gibraltar and it is stored away in a locker ready to come our next year. There were also crocuses and daffodil bulbs to plant and new bird feeders to hang from the trees in the children’s garden.
After Christmas, with the weather starting to get warmer, there were sunflowers and vegetable seeds to plant. I am only sorry I won’t be there to see them grow.
When Jane and Martin visited in January we went on Andrew’s monthly tour of the gardens. Andrew is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the history and plants of the gardens and we got to go into places not usually open to the public, the Dell and the Jubilee Greenhouse. It was a very educational and entertaining almost couple of hours and we highly recommend going if you are in Gibraltar.
And then almost as soon as I started I had to say goodbye but not before we went into the gardens to pick lots of vinegar plants to feed the monkeys in the wildlife park.
Thank you, Chris and Andrew and all the kids at the club, for letting me share in your fun and spend time in the beautiful gardens for a while. I really hope you get your new biodome and will be back to visit again on our way out of the Med to check that everything in your garden is rosy.
In the meantime, my seed bird hangs proudly on Pintail!