The work is strenuous and far from glamorous, but Shirley Apt, 83, enjoys putting in five to six hours of gardening every Tuesday as a volunteer at Botanica.
She also helps run the popcorn machine during the Illuminations, the celebration of lights now on display at Botanica.
Apt recently helped other volunteers plant 23,000 tulip bulbs for next spring. That work took a couple of Tuesdays.
The physical aspect of the work is a challenge, she said, but rewarding.
“I enjoy things that grow and look pretty and please other people,” Apt said. “Those are beautiful gardens and it takes a lot of work, and a lot of it is done by volunteers.”
Apt said she has worked as a volunteer at Botanica for six or seven years. She starts every Tuesday early in the morning and finishes with the digging and planting and cleaning up by about noon.
She works there around the year. The cycles of the seasons are never-ending.
“We just finished planting the tulips for next spring, then we’ll dig up the tulips and plant the summer flowers,” Apt said.
Her daughter, Carolyn, says Apt goes home exhausted, but satisfied after her days at Botanica.
And Apt admits the work makes her tired.
But, she said, “I think I’m in pretty good shape for my age. It’s something I enjoy. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it.”