Gardening Topic for September 2007
Become an Enabled Gardener

Provided by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association

By Rae Davis, Master Gardener


Gardening is a wonderful hobby for people of all ages. Regardless of abilities or disabilities you can become an enabled gardener. About 90% of the people in our country have gardened in someway. It could be a plant on a windowsill in the city or a potato farmer with many acres.

The French Impressionist Claude Monet was a great painter and also a avid gardener. Eventually he lost his sight. This did not stop him from painting or gardening. Claude Monet was an enabled gardener.
Horticultural Therapy has been around for many years. Recently it has become a “Growing Profession”. Many Senior Centers have classes on gardening where new ways to garden are addressed. Garden Clubs have aging members and it is important for them to still be involved in gardening in an adaptive way.

Gardening is a year around hobby. In the winter you can have house plants to take care of and watch grow. In spring, summer and fall you can tend to an outdoor garden. You may need adaptive tools and ways to water easily to fit with your life style. Watch out for the word “ergonomic” gardening tools. Not all are the same or best for you. Your hands should not be stressed when you garden. A hand tool in a lighter weight that supports your wrist in a neutral position maybe the best for you. Some gardening tools that are light weight are sold in discount stores and multiply item pharmacies often have inexpensive light weight tools that my work for you. I have indoor garden tote that has small tools with longer handles that don’t push into the palm of my hand. These are useful for indoor and outdoor gardening, You can grow flowers , herbs and even vegetables in large pots. You can find large plastic pots that looks much like terracotta. These pots are much easier to move about. With these large pots you can fill a plastic bag with packing peanuts and put it in the bottom of the pot. Then fill the pot with soil so your plants have room for the roots to grow. Also in my small gardening tote I have small pruning shears and one for cutting flower stems.
Raised bed gardens work well for people in wheelchairs. One should be able to wheel up and to a comfortable level. Also consider how far a person can reach. A two foot reach works well for many. With gardens in the ground remember not to make the rows too wide. No more then two to three feet. For gardening in the ground refer to April 2007 accessible gardening article which will be most helpful to you.

The colour , texture and smell of plants is wonderful. For vision inpaired people the soft touch of Lambs-ears (Stachys olympica) is such a wonderful feel. Also Yarrow (Achillea) with its feathery touch is very nice. Lemon Balm (Labiatae) and the many mints have wonderful scents.

The love of gardening is like a seed planted. As the seed grows so do you grow in your new way of gardening. I want to make gardening a pleasure for you as it has been for me for so many years. As my abilities changed I found new ways to adapt to my new gardening. Gardening should be relaxing and healing. Let’s make gardening fun and learn to become an enabled gardener.

For other articles, check out our archives

Provided by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association