As a certified master gardener, Joyce Weinberg users her talents and experiences to lead groups on the Arboretum’s Guided Garden Tour, held every Friday at 10 a.m. through October. In 2003, she became a Buncombe County Master Gardener after being an Illinois Master Gardener for more than seven years. She is also currently chair of the Buncombe County Master Gardeners’ annual continuing education symposium. Prior to joining the Arboretum’s volunteer program, Joyce volunteered for 12 years in the production greenhouse at the Chicago Botanical Garden, where she worked for the propagator. She also volunteers with the Asheville Symphony Guild. I recently had a chance to catch up with Joyce and learn more about her experiences as volunteer garden guide at the Arboretum.

1.) What led you to start volunteering at The North Carolina Arboretum?

I was a volunteer at the Chicago Botanical Garden before my husband and I moved to Asheville, and we loved it. A friend that I worked with in Chicago had moved to Hendersonville and suggested to me that I would enjoy visiting the Arboretum. We visited the first weekend we were here, joined as members and filled out a volunteer application right on the spot.

2.) What has your experience been as a volunteer for the Guided Garden Tours?

The groups are varied – from the bus tour folks (who had been to the Biltmore Estate the day prior and are just fascinated that the Arboretum land had once been a part of the Estate’s property), to garden clubs, to master gardeners, to extension agents who are really interested in the plants and background of the Arboretum. I have also given tours to various churches and community center senior groups who are just interested in a pretty place and having lunch outside. For the most part, it has been fun.

3.) How has your Master Gardener certification helped you with leading the Guided Garden Tours?

Being a master gardener helps with my plant knowledge and allows me to address many of the questions visitors will ask about plants for their gardens and problems they’ve had with some of the plants they see while on the tour.

4.) What would you tell a visitor/member who is interested in attending a Guided Garden Tour?

For visitors, a Garden Tour is chance to learn more about the Arboretum, its history and focus, as well as the plants that grow here. Each guide will have a slightly different focus since we all have different interests, and it’s really far more than we can cover in the typical tour.

To join Joyce or other volunteer garden guides and learn more about the Arboretum’s cultivated gardens, attend a Guided Garden Tour, held every Friday starting at 10 a.m. inside the Baker Exhibit Center lobby. Tours are free, however, donations to The North Carolina Arboretum Society are welcomed. For more information, please click here.

At The North Carolina Arboretum, we are fortunate to have nearly 500 volunteers contributing their time, talents, enthusiasm and energy year-round. From guest services, to horticulture and gardening, to education programs, volunteers are the heart of the Arboretum and play an integral role in helping us achieve our mission of cultivating connections between people and plants. Our volunteers learn new skills, meet new people, make a positive impact on the environment and advance our mission through their hands-on support of the gardens and other programs and departments. We are so grateful for all of our volunteers, as we could not operate this 434-acre treasure without their help!