Every garden has a story. Some are young and full of robust plants, while some have aged and are in need of some tender loving care. This is the story of the north courtyard garden at The Homestead of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital in Penn Yan. It is a beautiful garden that needed a little assistance, and having friends in the Master Gardener program turned out to be very helpful.
The Master Gardener Program is a national program of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension offices to extend gardening information to the local community. Master Gardeners see soil as the base for germination of seeds destined to become beautiful plants, blooming in their maturity. So in turn, Master Gardeners cultivate their involvement in the community.
Activities staff at The Homestead plan programs to keep the minds and bodies of the residents who live in the facility active. The facility’s courtyards provide a safe, outdoor space for the enjoyment of the residents. Some of the residents who had their own gardens and flowerbeds in the past are engaged in planting and tending the courtyards. Those who are unable to help can simply enjoy the beauty.
Periodically, a Homestead activities aide, Edie Strong, would seek advice from a friend, who happens to be a Master Gardener. Earlier this year, that request turned into a visit by the Master Gardener, Susan Baxter, to one of two enclosed courtyards at The Homestead. And the visit evolved into a wonderful partnership. A team of Master Gardeners and Homestead staff was formed to develop some plans and then the activity began.
The Master Gardeners secured a donation of several shade-tolerant plants from Horning’s Greenhouse, Garden Center & Nursery in Penn Yan and had a work session alongside staff and residents at The Homestead to set them in place in the north courtyard.
More recently, Grace Gardens in Penn Yan donated daylilies that will bring beautiful flowers to the garden next summer. And Jan Barrett, another Master Gardener, has not only volunteered her time, but donated more than 100 spring-flowering bulbs that will bring colorful blossoms to the gazebo area.
“It was gratifying to see all the smiling faces as we brought in our shovels and gorgeous plants to The Homestead,” said Baxter, the Master Gardener responsible, along with Barrett, for progressing the Homestead project. “The residents, visitors, staff and contributors all benefit from this effort. The Homestead north courtyard has always been beautiful, but now there is some new vigor in the garden.”
“We are so grateful to the Master Gardeners for taking the lead this summer in reinvigorating the north courtyard at The Homestead. Many of our residents love being outdoors and have lots of experience with gardening. The Master Gardeners spent many hours helping beautify the space for our residents to enjoy and provided some great opportunities for the residents to participate in this beautification process,” said Gail Cosler, Activities supervisor at The Homestead.
The plan is not yet complete either, with strategies being discussed for more projects to enhance the courtyard in the future.