Helping Hands - Shirley Beneke

Photo: R. R. Jones

Shirley Beneke

Norrie's Gift Shop

Shirley Beneke belongs to a dedicated corps of volunteers that has made the UCSC Arboretum the envy of other botanical gardens. Her long history of involvement with the Arboretum began in the early 1980s, when she ran a flower shop and color nursery in Felton. Now retired, Beneke works at the Arboretum gift shop (Norrie's), teaches workshops on flower arrangements, and helps organize theannual dried flower and succulent sale each November.

Beneke first got involved with the Arboretum when she bought some dried flowers for her shop from volunteer Jean Beevers. "Jean saw the value of the dried material from the Arboretum, exotic stuff from the South African collection that most people had never seen before," Beneke says.

Before long, the two of them were organizing the first dried flower sale, which was a big success and continues to be a major fund-raising event for the Arboretum. Later, in 1993, Beneke helped get the gift shop off the ground. Norrie's, which is run entirely by volunteers, offers books, plants from the Arboretum's collections, fresh flowers, and a variety of arts-and-crafts supplies.

"Norrie's was an immediate success--it was just magical," says Beneke, who brims with energy and enthusiasm when she talks about the Arboretum.

"There's so much to learn and it's so exciting--I feel that I'm the real winner for all the knowledge, the freedom they allow you here, and the good friends I've made," she says.

--Tim Stephens

Return to Helping Hands | Winter '99 Issue Contents