Q: How did the Grave Gardeners program get started?
A: The Grave Gardeners program grew out of an idea that Jessica Baumert, Executive Director at The Woodlands had years ago. As a site with many historical layers—The Woodlands was once the 18th century estate of amateur botanist and plant collector William Hamilton and was later converted into a rural cemetery—we are always looking for interesting ways to communicate these layers to visitors. Re-planting the numerous Victorian cradle graves that populate the site seemed like the perfect way to both beautify the space and engage visitors with the site’s history.
Q: Who runs the Grave Gardeners program?
A: Currently, the program is coordinated and managed by the staff of The Woodlands. Since we’ve had such a positive response to the program—with over 150 participants this year—we hope to be able to hire a program manager to keep things running smoothly.
Q: How do you become a Grave Gardener?
A: We accept applications for each season beginning in January. While we try to include as many gardeners as possible, we have to limit the program somewhat in order to keep it manageable for our small staff and accommodate the group during the initial workshops.
Q: Who cares for the gardens?
A: Volunteers sign on to adopt their garden for an entire season (March through October). They are responsible for planting, weeding, watering and generally maintaining their own gardens throughout the gardening season.
Q: What kind of plants are acceptable and where do you get them?
A: We try to provide our gardeners with all of the plants, seeds and bulbs they need to keep their gardens full and beautiful all season long. We do an initial seed order each season from a variety of heirloom seed suppliers. Seeds are distributed to gardeners at work days, and we keep some to start in our greenhouse space as well. We also provide gardeners with plugs from our partners
Q: Can I visit the gardens?
A: Yes, please do! The Woodlands is open every day from dawn until dusk and the gardens are scattered throughout the grounds.
Q: How can I help support the Grave Gardeners?
A: We really appreciate donations to the program! We try to provide all plant material for our gardeners along with tools and staff support. Any donation goes directly towards providing plant material and operation of the program.