27 July 2012

End July, 2012

Back in the spring the Second Graders planted sweet peas in a long planter box on the patio in the backyard of St. Anne's. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, we are always looking for ways to better bring the garden to the residents and the residents into the garden.

The children and I decided that a column of sweet peas would be a lovely addition to the patio. The brick patio is a place for residents to congregate outdoors as well as bring their visitors to admire the garden.

The sweet peas took off and loved the San Francisco cool summer climate. By July the bushes were taller than I was and full of flowers. They have been in constant production even to now, mid November. We will finally remove them this week, in fact, after five months of blooms.

The sweet smell of the flowers has been an attraction for the residents. Plants that have multiple sensory stimuli work the best in horticultural therapy. Sweet peas fit this bill perfectly: their colors are vibrant and their smell is powerful and pleasant.

In late July two volunteers, a resident, and I harvested hundreds of sweet peas so that we could make a full vase for every resident's room. We spent an hour cutting the flowers and putting them in vases, then walked up and down the hallways visiting each resident and placing a vase of flowers in his or her room.

This fall the sweet peas continue to bring smiles. For the past several weeks, the now Third Grade children cut sweet peas and bring them into the St. Anne's dining room in addition to our plates of garden food. The children walk around with the vases and invite the residents to take a deep smell of the lovely flowers. We all look forward to a new crop in 2013.