Members of the Willowood Garden Club have been planting seeds at a local nursing home for two years.
The club's garden therapy committee, led by Harriett Campbell, visits Forest Lake Health Care quarterly to engage its residents in themed garden therapy, which usually includes potting a plant to take back to their rooms. The committee has helped residents pot pansies, begonias and impatiens, and helped them arrange carnations in a vase for Valentine's Day.
"They love taking them back to their rooms," Campbell said. "It gives them something to look forward to."
Mildred King, 83, said "there is something different all the time" about the center's many activities. She participated in the club's pansy planting last winter.
King says she must have picked up some of her late husband's gardening skills because her plant outgrew the pot. It got so big, she had to give it away to someone to plant in a garden.
King was one of nearly 25 residents planting marigolds in pots decorated with butterflies. The butterfly theme was inspired by the butterfly bush club members planted just outside the activities room to attract the colorful insects.
"Many of the residents in the rooms around it don't leave their room, so it will be nice for them," said Pat Slater, the club president.
Garden therapy is helpful to mobile residents on many levels, said center Activities Director Lisa Barrett.
"It puts the focus on the positive in their lives instead of the negative," she said. "It allows them to draw from their past life, which can be a reminiscent experience for them. For many of them, gardening was a big part of the lives. So they remember the good things and remember sharing."
For active residents such as King, who plays the piano for everyone as they go to sleep each night, the garden therapy helps keep them moving. Many, Barrett said, can recapture lost physical movement to a certain degree.
"It makes them feel useful and gives them a good sense of self-worth," she said.
But as Barrett said, sometimes there is nothing as therapeutic as getting back to earth and digging in the dirt.
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