Lotusland docents may be volunteers, but they’re paid with plenty of perks. They get to write their own scripts, decide their own routes through the teeming gardens, and, best of all, give personal tours to friends and family when the grounds are closed to the public. That is, of course, in addition to their primary duty, which is basically an excuse to explore and talk about a botanical wonderland full of incredible plants and intriguing history. Docent Sandy DeRousse summed it up best: “I feel like I get to go on vacation every week, in a place that’s always different and always beautiful, while meeting fascinating guests from all over the world.”
On Monday, August 26, at 9:30 a.m., Lotusland will host an informational meeting on its docent program. It’s a chance to meet staff and current docents and hear more about the trainings, which begin September 9. Two-hour sessions are held every Monday morning for 12 weeks with professors and experts lecturing on the garden’s exotic plant collections and the lore of Madam Ganna Walska, whose wealth and whimsy created the world-renowned property. For more information, contact Volunteer Coordinator Kitty Thomassin (805) 969-3767 x112, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DeRousse’s husband and a fellow docent, Michael, has been leading tours for four years now. He said he finds it more and more gratifying with each passing year. “Our social circle has also expanded to include other docents who are a fascinating lot from every occupation you can imagine,” Michael said. “Doctors, engineers, architects, phycologists, inventors, screenplay writers, teachers, etc. A group of about 15 of us get together for dim sum last Sunday of every month.” Michael’s cardiologist has even given him permission to substitute treadmill exercise with doing tours. “And I feel my memory is better than ever since,” he said.