Published: Jul 26, 2008 12:35 PM
Modified: Jul 26, 2008 12:35 PM
Green-thumbed residents are rolling up their sleeves and getting their knees dirty at Carol Woods and loving every minute of it. From the famous pink roses at the campus entrance to the "Farmer's Garden" at the back of the campus, novice and experienced gardeners can easily find a plot of soil to suit their gardening desires.
In addition to the more than two dozen official gardens on campus, residents can adopt a plot wherever they see an open space, as long as they clear it with the grounds staff.
On most Monday mornings, residents can be seen on their hands and knees working the land at the Harkness Garden near the pond, ripping out weeds and pruning bushes. Residents spend their early morning hours beautifying this and other sections of campus as part of the "Garden Gophers," a group of green-thumbers that resident Marian Stephenson created in March of 2007.
Stephenson started the Garden Gophers because she noted there were a lot of serious gardeners at Carol Woods.
"Now that we're here and this is our home, I think we want to make it as lovely as we can and contribute," she said.
Residents have said they know they're "home" when they see the pink roses blooming at the front entrance to the campus. They are referring to the 26 "Rhonda" rose bushes that line the wood fence separating the campus from Weaver Dairy Road.
More than 20 "Fence Rose" volunteers keep them in prime blooming condition. Residents such as Sally Rohrdanz and Gay Brashear tend the roses about twice a week during peak blooming periods.
"So many people stop and thank us for doing it," said Rohrdanz. "We've become known by our pink roses out front."
The glassed-in walkway between the Dining Room and Central Assisted Living offers a special view of some well-loved roses. These garden roses are also tended by resident volunteers.
Garden Roses volunteers Nancy Sitterson and Gay Brashear, along with many other residents, spend lots of time in the newly established community rose garden.
Sitterson, an experienced rose enthusiast, loved roses so much she had a rose garden planted at her cottage when she moved to Carol Woods. Now in a Central Apartment, she tends the rose beds as co-chair of the Garden Roses Committee.
"I just love to look at them," said Sitterson. "I don't cook any more or bake to take things to people, and people are on diets and things, so it's much nicer to take them arrangements."
With the cost of produce creeping higher, the Farmers' Garden is an economic advantage. Here residents can have a plot and grow whatever they'd like. There are 56 10 foot-by-10 foot plots and 28 farmers tilling the soil in this sunny area. Much of the produce is placed in a basket and put in the main building with a donation box for residents and staff to enjoy. Donations go right back to the Farmer's Garden Group for expenses and upkeep.
Residents can also become involved in the Gardens and Landscaping Committee, chaired by Marian Stephenson.
"I have one of the most robust grounds committee groups I've ever had," said Tony Bayless, director of the grounds department. "That's kudos to the chairperson who is usually the driving force."
Muriel Easterling, a resident, became a wildflower lover after walking on a country road where a farmer's dormant field had grown glorious with wildflowers.
"I just couldn't get over how beautiful they were, and no one had weeded or watered them," Easterling said. "From that moment on, I have been a real native gardener."
Easterling created a wildflower garden on an open spot on campus. Her garden now attracts butterflies and birds and is home to butterfly weed, asters, evening primrose, sundrops and much more.
Carol Woods' gardens are the perfect accessory to the already beautiful natural habitat that residents cherish.
"We value this campus because of the woodland areas, all the habitats for animals, and there's a lot of birdwatchers here," Stephenson said. "We have had a policy for a long time to leave the woodland areas in their natural state because it does provide habitat and wildflowers and so on. That's a value that's part of everything."
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