March is finally here, and that means it’s time to start thinking about our outdoor pots and gardens. To help, student volunteers from Emporia State University are stopping by this month to help us with our gardens.
“We haven’t done anything like this since I’ve been here, and I’m really excited to get to participate in it,” said Jen Moran, life enrichment director. “At that time, I think we’ll also plan what we’ll be doing in our healthcare patio. My goal is to make the patio an even more special and beautiful place. We enjoyed keeping the raised beds and pots weeded throughout the summer, but I feel like there’s even more we can do, as a community, with the space.”
Last year, cherry tomatoes, marigolds and petunias were planted in addition to one surprise. “I found what I later learned was morning glories,” said Jen. “We also have a huge patch of honeysuckle, which is delightful when it blooms.”
In addition to the outdoor gardens, plants have always been an important feature around the community. They add a home-like quality to the environment and have are proven to improve air quality, which is especially helpful during the winter months when we spend more time indoors.
Working with the plants has proven benefits to all of us, too.
“It’s relaxing and rewarding to watch the plants grow,” said Jen. “It provides a tactile experience for those who enjoy working in the soil or pruning their plants. Plants are also a nice topic for reminiscing about our past. I often ask residents about what kinds of plants they or their parents used to raise in their gardens. This can lead to discussions about how to grow, can or cook veggies, or even what a resident’s favorite vegetable is or what flower they most like to smell.”
While Jen doesn’t claim to be the best gardener, she does have a lot of friends in the community with “lovely green thumbs” that she enjoys learning from.
“Many of our ground-floor residents have cultivated their own gardens. It’s fun to chat about their plants in the spring, when everything is coming up. It’s also helpful to me, on a personal level, to get advice about my own garden.”
Stay tuned to see what plans will be developed for the Jones Healthcare patio. “I’m excited to work with the residents to determine what we’ll plant this spring. I’d love to start a big strawberry patch.”
PHOTOS: Jen Moran, life enrichment director, and residents tended to a variety of plants on the healthcare patio last year. We also enjoyed the birdhouse, made by one of our residents.