Friendships in Bloom: Perspectives Volunteers at Roger Williams Botanical Garden

By Sara Porcaro | February 9, 2017

Winter frost doesn't reach every corner of Rhode Island.

A lovely proof of this takes root in the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, where volunteers from Perspectives Corporation now work hard every Thursday morning to ensure that the outdoor plants rest well for spring and the Conservatory plants grow healthy and lush year-round. These volunteers are part of Perspectives' Adult Day Services program, which allows for plenty new experiences and opportunities for Perspectives clients. By Sarah’s initiative on a visit to the Botanical Center in July, and the donations of gardening tools and supplies from Perspectives employees, she, Chris, and Shyona officially became volunteers on September 8th, 2016, and have been getting their hands routinely dirty ever since. As part of the support that Adult Day Services provides, staff members Jasmine and Shannon drive and accompany the volunteers during their hours at the Botanical Center. The crew starts each Thursday with a drink from Dunkin’ Donuts, making these weekly outings something of a warm ritual in this cold weather—a fantastic opportunity for everyone to grow together and let their new friendships blossom.

Each volunteer works together on big projects, such as protecting the Rose Maze from the winter cold, but they also take great pride in their work on the individual sections of the gardens and other small projects they take on. Most of the direction comes from a fellow volunteer, Holly, who coordinates much of the activities that the group focuses on for the day. During these frigid months, Chris tackles the weeds in the greenhouses, pulling the intruding sprouts up with careful precision and vigilance.He also displays his bravery by offering to do the odd jobs—forinstance, weeding and pruning the plants in the center of the carnivorous plant bog, where only one rock serves as his platform amidst the watery muck. Sarah has been responsible for the orchid plants, ensuring that they stay watered, fed, and blossoming throughout the year. While keeping the thirsty blooms well-watered sometimes proves a challenge, the soft, bright flowers provide quite the payoff. Purple is Sarah’s favorite color, and naturally, the purple orchid blossoms are that much more of a satisfying sight. Shyona also enjoys the many elements of gardening; she spends her time weeding and pruning the flower beds, and her favorite task is planting new bulbs, her favorite flower being bright white daisies.

Smiles grace the volunteers, who enjoy every moment they spend at the Roger Williams Botanical Center. Whether indoor or out, there are more pros than cons. Despite the heat the greenhouses garner in summer, the sunlight catches all the leaves and flowers beautifully, according to Chris. And when winter fades and spring bursts through the soil again, Sarah will be found outside—she loves tackling all there is to do out on the property .Shyona too, will have her hands full with all the new spring flowers. But for now, while the outside air is still frigid, the volunteers are inside, joking, laughing, and enjoying the greenhouses as they prune and care for all the plants and trees.

Shannon and Jasmine, two of Perspectives Corporation's staff members,are also essential to the group. Shannon explains that they work hard to "make it fun" for the volunteers, as well as coach them as they take on new tasks and expand their knowledge of the RWP Botanical Center’s many leafy residents. They’re a part of this close-knit group, and they look forward to going to the RWP Botanical Center with Sarah, Chris, and Shyona each week. With all of them together, not a dull moment passes between the pruning shears, trowels and dirt. Shannon and Jasmine especially love making jokes with the crew, and the cheer spreads easily through everyone around them.

Two RWP Botanical Center volunteers who work regularly with the Perspectives crew, Val and Ellen, mentioned an exciting upcoming event, which Education Coordinator Lesley Lambert also commented on: Fairy Garden Days. In preparation for the fairies coming to the RWP Botanical Center, the Perspectives crew will be building their own fairy houses out of organic materials, like moss, bark, acorn caps, seashells and other natural items. Community is the theme for this year’s Fairy Days—celebrating the diversity of our planet (both real and imaginary). Each house will be built based on a “background” of the fairy that lives within— allowing the volunteer fairy house builders to showcase their creativity through their own interpretations of these forest folk.

Fairy Garden Days will run from April 15th through the 30th, Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Guests are invited to play games in Gnome Village, take a scavenger hunt through the greenhouses, build their own fairy house for the visiting fairies, have a snack in the court yard and spend the day looking more closely at the natural world full of all manners of life. Come support the Perspectives volunteers by heading to the RWP Botanical Center’s Fairy Garden Days in April, and feel free to come dressed as fairy folk!

For more information about the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, visit or follow them on Facebook. To book a tour, become a volunteer, or ask more questions, call (401) 680-7250 or email