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A garden grows

July 25, 2016
by Kathleen Mears
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This past spring, Trudy*, a dietitian who had been here a few months, asked if I could look up short garden quotes. She wanted to put them on a plaque or slate in the garden she was making near the smoke shack. It took me a while to find three quotes. As I looked out the window, I wondered how Trudy would put a garden in an area that to me looked like it needed a complete makeover.

Gradually, Trudy brought in items for the garden on weekends like painted pallets, brightly painted old rubber tires and pots of various sizes. I heard a local Boy Scouts troop and others had agreed to volunteer. I saw plants arrive and wondered if they would get them all planted. I secretly wished they needed a supervisor since I used to love to grow things. But, ultimately, I decided to remain an observer.

On weekends, after work and on many other days I saw Trudy going in and out of the building carrying things to the garden. One day, she came in with a drill. Later, when she was leaving she did not have it. When I asked her where it was, she thanked me saying she had left it in the garden and hurried off to get it.

In early June while pulling weeds, Trudy got a bad case of poison ivy on her arms. I realized then she must be doing a garden in a much larger space than the area around the smoke shack.

While she was working on the garden, Trudy took residents out who wanted to help her. Other residents went out to sit, watch and enjoy the outdoors.

On Father's Day, one of the nurses took me out to see the garden. There were a few plants around the smoke shack but the large garden is behind it. There are several large square and rectangular planters filled with flowering plants, vegetables and herbs. Trudy and the volunteers also  hung "throwaway artifacts" on the wood privacy fence. I saw one half of an old stepladder and a unique arrangement of what looked like oversized colored paper clips.

Trudy was able to get some topsoil delivered, but it is clear that keeping the area watered is important. One aide and maybe others were watering it on their evening smoke breaks. Though the garden would still benefit from some extra touches, it was quite an improvement.

When I wanted to do this blog, I hadn't seen Trudy for several days. I thought she was on vacation. A few days later, I learned she no longer works here.

Trudy made an impact creating the garden. When she worked on it, we were reminded that our environment—outside at least—was changing. Corporate even put up a length of chain link fence to keep the area more secure.

Though Trudy was in charge of making sure we had nutritious food, the garden she created feeds our souls. I hope it can somehow be maintained.



Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...