Garden of the Month: Small gardens, great joys

Residents and visitors are treated to seasonally changing plants at the Stratford at Beyer Park community.
Residents and visitors are treated to seasonally changing plants at the Stratford at Beyer Park community. Modesto Garden Club

Sometimes, large joys come from small places.

Such is the case with 17 3-foot-square raised garden boxes set up across Modesto at several of the city’s senior communities, elder care facilities and rehabilitation centers.

And that’s why the Modesto Garden Club has bestowed its Garden of the Month honors for October on these small therapeutic planters that club members build and maintain.

The therapeutic boxes are set at a height to accommodate gardeners who are seated or those who can’t bend down. Garden club volunteers work with activity directors and residents at the different senior communities and centers to keep the plants and flowers in the boxes bright and blooming. Many centers have multiple boxes on site.

Residents love to look at, smell and touch the plants, according to a release from the Modesto Garden Club. Many of the residents have planted flowers they’ve received on Valentine’s Day, Christmas and Mother’s Day into the boxes at their communities. “They take pride in watching their gifts grow,” the release said.

At Evergreen Nursing & Rehabilitation Care Center, resident Joe Hall loves to watch what lives in the boxes. Through photography, he has documented the lives of spiders, ladybugs and praying mantises in the gardens, according to the Garden Club, and has been photographing a wolf spider for the past year. Hall is a quadriplegic who has limited used of one hand. He has a camera mounted to the tray of his wheelchair and he uses a mouth-held device to change its settings. Because the boxes are elevated, he is able to get up close for his photographs.

At all of the communities and centers, residents can participate in maintaining the boxes by deadheading flowers and watering the plants – or they simply can enjoy looking at the plantings, some of which are changed out for the seasons.

People who visit family or friends at the city’s senior communities can stroll outside and see the small gardens for themselves.

Those who want to construct their own 3-by-3 garden boxes can find instructions on the Modesto Garden Club website, Check under Education, Therapeutic Gardening, and see instructions for “Constructing a Garden Box.”