Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday Flowers: Accessible Gardening


She isn't a patient and she doesn't need the wheelchair. The lovely girl is a seventeen year old from Spain who is in Canada for a month on a summer exchange program. Her host works at the hospital and brought her to work for a day this week. Our occupational therapist was showing her how to drive a power wheelchair and she thought it was great fun. One of my patients was watching her and said,

"Oh the beauty of youth! If they only knew how fleeting it was."

My patient knows the reality of disability and lives her life from a wheelchair. She doesn't think it is great fun.


Patients spend many weeks or even months at our hospital. This garden at the back of the building near the chapel features raised beds so people can garden from their wheelchairs. Penny, our recreational therapist organizes a group of gardeners to work the beds and tend the flowers and vegetables growing there.


She has a wonderful assortment of herbs, lettuces, tomatoes, annual and perennial flowers. The herbs and vegetables will be used for special meals and for making flavoured oils and vinegars. Getting outdoors and watching things grow is very therapeutic. One patient who is waiting to be transferred to a nursing home is concerned he may not see his tomatoes ripen. Hopefully his new home will have a similar gardening program.


Garden centres are full of long handled tools and padded accessories for aging boomers who find the bending and kneeling of gardening hard on their deteriorating joints. Raised beds are a great option and are easier to keep watered than traditional flower beds. I enjoy coming in this back entrance or taking my patients out here for a walk. Even if summer is hot, dry, wet, humid or bug-infested, it is still summer and better than our long, dark winters in my opinion.


Our hospital garden was featured in this recent article in our local newspaper.

Have a great long weekend! I plan to get caught up on blog reading during my time off.

13 comments:

  1. Great idea for the patients. Gardens have a calming effect.

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  2. the facility where you work looks lovely. I love the idea of the raised beds, working in the soil must be very therapeutic--I know that I would miss it if I could no longer garden.

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  3. What a wonderful concept! Flowers are so comforting to people and the fact that the patients can get right in their and be a part of it is genius!

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  4. Where D's dad lives they have a tiny raised bed herb/salad garden and the rest of the grounds are in flowers No raised beds at the home where my Mom is though and some of those people are quite able to work a garden. I think your hospital garden is such a great idea ... nicely laid out ... well kept ... attractive ... inviting. A nice looking facility from the outside too.

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  5. Let's all enjoy this long weekend.

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  6. The raised flower beds are a such a wonderful idea.

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  7. Very uplifting post. I wish more rehab centers had raised gardening. It's great therapy.

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  8. What a beautiful garden area Ruth. I can imagine it does the patients so much good to be out there and enjoying the beauty.

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  9. What a fantastic idea and so therapeutic for the patients, both physically and mentally. I hope that patient gets to those tomatoes. What a lovely post!

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  10. At the facility where I work, the raised flower beds are a big hit with the residents, and our therapists often walk among the apple trees with the residents, so they can pick the fruit in the autumn.

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  11. What a beautiful setting. I'm sure it will bring many benefits for the patients. Thank you for sharing.

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  12. Thanks for your comments. I am fortunate to work in such a lovely setting and appreciate it very much every day.

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  13. Ruth, I wanted to comment on this post yesterday but Blogger was having some problems. I agree, wheelchairs are great fun when you don't need one.

    The nursing home where my father lives look smuch like your courtyard with raised beds and bird feeders. The last time we visited Dad we strolled him into the courtyard and parked him in the shade. His mood lightened, surrounded by flowers and birds. But he fixated on the American flag the most and knew all about the upcoming July 4th holiday. We didn't even have to ask him...

    Nice post. You know what the elderly need. Hugs.

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