FRUIT TREES AND OLDER ADULTS
Everyone has a garden story to tell. Start to mention an interest in gardening and it seems that people will share their adventures in nature. For example, I was on a flight back from San Diego and had the pleasure of sitting next to a woman who had several garden stories to tell. She and her husband live outside of Houston on a one acre parcel and have a passion for growing fruit trees. The winter was not very kind because a frost threatened their grapefruit trees. They had to pick all of the fruit, before it ripened, or it ruined by the frost.
I relate this story mainly because this gardener was even more concerned with how she and her husband will be able to maintain their fruit trees as they get older. They are currently in the 50′s and want to continue to live in their home for the rest of their lives. One of their concerns is how they will be able to work in their garden and care for their fruit trees and vegetable garden. Watering, pruning, weeding and all of the things that they need to do to help the garden thrive.
There is a lot to consider when we talk about aging-in-place, especially as it relates to the garden and yard in general. There is a growing need to help people adapt their yards to become age friendly outdoor environments. This will require an assessment of the yard to help people to continue to fully use their yard. In the case of the woman from Houston, installing a drip irrigation system; applying mulch to control weeds and retain moisture; planting disease resistant varieties of fruit trees; are a few of the ways people can help make it easier to create age appropriate gardens. It may also be possible to share the work with neighbors in exchange for a share of some of the produce when it ripens. Gardeners want to keep working in their garden and we need to find ways to help make it easier for everyone.Read more
Spring is upon us and we are itching to get back into the garden. The winter months, especially after the many storms we have experienced, have left us much to do. One of our chores is to assess the condition of our trees. The snow has caused some branches to split and/or fall. There may also be dead branches that should be removed. Or, we may want to open up the garden for some additional sunlight.
Unless you want to maintain a formal garden setting, most trees look better when they are left in a natural form. The best time to assess the ‘structure’ of the tree is when it is dormant. It is easier to clearly see what branches may need to be pruned when there are no leaves on the tree. To keep the natural form and appearance of a tree, do not try to shape it into a complete sphere or ball. That is not what nature intended.
One critical aspect of tree care is to never cut the central leader of the tree. Most all trees have a central spine that is essential to the structure of the tree. Again, this should never be cut. This will impair the life and healthy growth of the tree. It is better to determine the ultimate height of a specific tree before it is planted, rather than trying to control the height of a tree after it has been installed. A little research will save time and the creation of disfigured tree.
A few general rules to consider when tending to the care of a tree include the following conditions. Remove dead twigs and branches to prevent further problems from spreading. Remove any new shoots that emerge from the area around the trunk of the tree. Remove any branches that are crossing which may cause a wound from the friction of the branches when they move in the wind. A light pruning is recommended after the leaves of the trees appear. A ‘hard’ or more severe pruning is best to do when the tree is dormant (winter months).
Trees are the backbone any garden and landscape. We need to nurture and respect these special plants. They live a long time, sometimes hundreds of years, and our care can help to make sure that they live even longer.Read more
HORTICULTURAL THERAPY AT THE FLOWER SHOW
The Mid-Atlantic Horticultural Therapy Network of the American Horticultural Therapy Association was an exhibitor at the 2010 Philadelphia Flower Show for the first time. The Show is the largest indoor flower show in the world with attendance of over 250,000 people. The horticultural therapy exhibit presented many of the ways in which HT is presented to the various populations served. There were raised planters, adaptive tools, sensory plants and many other aspects of the profession for people to experience.
Comments offered by many of the people stopping by the exhibit were extremely encouraging. People talked about how they were positively affected by their involvement with horticultural therapy while they were in hospital and other instances. They talked about how it had positively impacted family members in a variety of settings. The exhibit even received several awards for display and presentation.
You can read more about horticultural therapy exhibit and the Flower Show at:Read more
Therapeutic Gardens Newsletter – MARCH 2010
A recent study conducted by researchers in Australia has shown that recreational amenities can encourage people to walk more. “The presence of a variety of interesting places in their neighborhoods is likely to induce resident’s participation in recreational physical activity” as indicated in the study.” The study “Associations with perceived environmental attributes”, (2009 Elsevier Ltd.) highlights the need to create stimulating outdoor environments if we want to encourage elders to spend more time in the outdoor environment. Gardens, parks, recreation areas and many other amenities should be incorporated into every neighborhood.
SIGNS OF SPRING
We have had to endure, what may seem to be, a colder and snowier winter. This spring may not come soon enough for many of us. We start to look around for those signals in nature that indicate that the garden is coming back to life. One of the early signs is to see those little yellow flowers emerging from underneath the mulch in the garden. Where there was once a large mound of snow, which melted the last week of February, several are crocus beginning to bloom. Looking around, what signs of spring do you see?
“A garden is never so good as it will be next year.”
- Thomas Cooper
GARDENS FOR ALL
As you start to plan your garden for the 2010 season, consider making it an intergenerational activity. Many people reminisce over the days when they would happily work in the garden with their parents and/or grandparents. This is a great way to remember a special time in our lives. So, plan the garden to include children. How about starting an alphabet garden or maybe a pizza garden? Encouraging gardeners of all ages will create lasing memories for generations to come.
Popeye was not wrong. We need our spinach and now is the time to get planting. Spinach is a cool weather crop and can be planted in the garden in early spring. You can start the plants in seed trays, usually 2 to 3 weeks before you want to plant them in the garden. You can also plant the seeds directly in the garden in rows. You will need to thin the plants as they emerge and keep them about 6” apart. (You can eat the small plants that have been thinned out.) Be sure to plant spinach in a sunny location and keep them watered until they germinate.
Early spring is the time to divide hostas, daylilies, daisies and other perennials. You may have space in your garden to move them. However, you can also offer some of the plants to friends. They may want to trade with you from their garden, too. This way every one benefits.
The best place to locate a bird feeder is to mount it on a 5 foot pole. A cone shaped baffle mounted just under the feeder will deter squirrels from getting to the seed. Place the feeder about 10 feet from trees and shrubs to allow birds to sit and wait their turn. And, remember to locate the feeder where you can see it from inside so you will be able to enjoy the activity.
The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the American Horticultural Therapy Association entered an exhibit at the 2010 Philadelphia Flower Show. This is the largest indoor flower show in the world. The exhibit won two awards and even more importantly introduced the benefits of horticultural therapy to over 250,000 people who attended the show. Pictures of the HT exhibit are on line at the DFG blog site, as well as the web site www.MAHTN.org
You can now follow our posts on the blog site: designforgenerations.wordpress.com In fact, we are transitioning the newsletter over to this format starting in April. We will continue to email the newsletter to everyone, and it will also be available through the Word Press site.