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Secret Gardeners


October 11, 2003

In communications with horticultural therapists who do gardening and nature related activities in nursing homes and other residential facilities, DIG IT! learned about projects that can be done.

The day's activity is propagating houseplants for the garden club members to keep in their rooms. DIG IT! brings a large spider plant, a root-bound rabbit's foot fern, a little kalanchoe, six-inch clay pots, broken shards, and potting soil.

We meet outside in 70-degree sunshine and spread newspapers on a round table. Residents don latex gloves and scoop soil from cafeteria trays to fill their pots.

We slice the fern into five vertical pieces and Rosemary snips the babies off the spider plant.

Rosemary pots the kalanchoe for her fiance Bille De Pippa. Rosemary and Bill will be married in two days - on October 11th. She just told Bill that she wishes she had a spider plant for their room that they'll soon share together. She says we must have read her mind.

Millie pots a fern and so does Lucy. Lucy likes to scoop the soil up with her fingers and pack it in around the plant. Tony helps Billie Farber plant his fern. He holds the furry roots up out of the way as Billie puts in soil.

A new gardener joined us today and she potted a fern too. Millie and Rosemary ask about the care and watering. Everybody likes their new plants.

Horticultural therapists say that when a resident propagates a plant for their own living space, whether indoors or out, they get a sense of having control over their environment. They feel accomplishment, productivity and self-reliance and also a new-found responsibility for a tiny life in their very own rooms.

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