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Getting older? That's no reason to stop gardening

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Janice Peterson
February 10, 2014

A couple of years ago my mother commented that it was becoming more difficult for her to garden. My mom takes great care of herself and stays active, but she's no spring chicken—she's somewhere between 29 and 130 years old. (I'm sworn to secrecy!) Bending and kneeling were definitely becoming harder yet she didn't want to give up gardening. These are the types of issues addressed by horticultural therapy, a practice that uses nature to improve people's health and well-being by incorporating adaptive tools and techniques.

As our population ages we still want to engage in healthful activities and gardening is definitely one of them. Gardening is beneficial to both physical and mental health. Studies have shown that engaging in gardening activities—or even just looking at a garden!—can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve mood and even reduce hospital stays. Gardening is great exercise, and it's a wonderful excuse to spend time in the fresh air and sunshine. Who doesn't enjoy playing in the dirt?

I enlisted a friend to build a raised planter for my mother. We set it out on her patio so that her garden is readily viewed from her kitchen window. It's easy for her to access the planter and she does a wonderful job growing beautiful flowers and even some vegetables and herbs in it. She loves it!

 If you're interested in building or buying a raised planter I'd recommend searching the internet for “raised beds” or “raised planters”. You will find many options for planters and plans (I believe my talented friend built this one without plans). I'd also visit the local garden shops to see what they have for sale.

My mom's raised planter is just one example of the creative solutions learned from horticultural therapy. On March 22, Rotary Botanical Gardens is hosting a spring symposium on the health benefits of gardening. Topics include Urban Agriculture, Lifelong Gardening and Cultivating the Mind-Body Connection. These lectures are always very well done, and I'm sure there will be plenty to learn at this fun and educational event for gardeners of all ages and abilities!


Janice Peterson has worked as a grounds horticulturist at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville since 2002. She is a master gardener with the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association. Though her education is in plant science, she considers her love of gardening and strong back to be her true qualifications. Janice is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of The Gazette staff or management.


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