Thursday, October 10, 2013

Open letter to destroyed alzheimer horticultural therapy gardens

It has been a productive and joyous six years working with you,  the residents and staff at the nursing home.    As a recreation therapist you "get it" and understand the benefit of therapeutic engaging activities more than the average activity director at other facilities.  The nursing home is fortunate to have you there.  

We have nurtured along four butterfly gardens, four vegetable gardens and four herb gardens. They have matured into very beautiful healing gardens where there was cement, fencing and empty beds.

I was shocked to visit the facility today and see most everything thrown away, hundreds of dollars of valuable plants as well as man hours of work gone.  Residents and staff and family members at the units came up to me asking, what happened to the garden?  They have grown to enjoy the therapeutic healing environment.  When I suggested we can plant again, their response was a forlorn "What's the point?" 

The garden cuts down stress, it gives them pleasure, and keeps employees happy at work. The garden also provided a quick snack (cherry tomatoes),   healing herbal teas (rosemary, thyme and tarragon.  The papayas gave a healthy nutritious snack.  All of this is gone.  Luckily the aloe remains.  

Red poisonous mulch is in the  beds, which I had removed in the past. This is an inappropriate mulch for a health facility.  Often the recycled wood is used that is pressure treated with a copper arsenic solution. That is why it is banned from playgrounds.  The red dye stains sidewalks, your hands and may be toxic as well.  If the bad does not state "no recycled wood" it is dangerous.  

The mulch was piled onto the base of all the shrubs, which can kill the plants.  The agricultural extension office suggests keeping all mulch several inches from the base of plants.  

All our cherry tomato plants are gone, they must have sprayed a toxic herbicide on the garden beds. 

I know the administration would not intentionally do harm to the residents and staff and family members.  Why no one was informed before is a mystery to me.  It was a sad day at the nursing home this morning indeed.  

Robert Bornstein 

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  1. Robert, I can't understand why they would do it. Most nursing homes, in my part of the world, put a great deal of money and effort into creating garden spaces for their residents. Obviously someone ignorant of the therapeutic and health benefits felt like they should impose their will.

    1. We have administraators that come and go. They make brash decisions without contacting staff to know what is going on.

  2. I have to wonder who was supposed to be taking care of this garden. A garden without a gardener quickly becomes a weed patch, or it is overly cleaned and mulched with bad mulch by the ignorant. I have learned not to return to gardens I have built and no longer work in.

    Interesting that you object to red-dyed wood mulch. What is worse is finely ground bark and bark dust, as bark contains preservatives that kill every bit of non-plant life in the soil when they leach out of the broken bark cells. This is the kind of mulch that soaks up water and rots crowns, because the soil dies and compacts.

    Gardening naturally,

    Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener

    1. That is a great point Ryche. The staff did not do enough or express their gratitude to upper management.

  3. Did they ever tell you why they pulled it up?

    1. They made excuses about maintenance and that the boy scouts were going to be fixing the gardens up.