Plant Talk

A Therapeutic Garden Grows in Amagansett, LI

Posted in History & People on November 9, 2020, by NYBG Adult Education

To keep our plant-loving community connected and engaged during this socially-distanced time, NYBG Adult Education has continued to offer online classes in a variety of subjects, and it brings joy and satisfaction to receive feedback from those who have taken these classes. Read on for an endearing before-and-after success story from one of our dedicated gardening students.

“My family has had a house in Amagansett since the 1960s that I’ve visited every summer, but I was always too busy raising my kids and working to ever touch a plant, let alone garden,” says NYBG Gardening student Karen Nelson. “My mother loved the garden at this house, but she now suffers from memory loss, so it’s been years since anyone has done anything with it.”

In what can be considered an odd twist of events, Nelson retired from her full-time job in the medical field in February, right before COVID-19 struck the New York area. Soon after, she and her husband decided to take her mother out of an assisted living facility and move into their long-time family home on Long Island.

In hopes to dabble in gardening during retirement, Nelson decided to make this the time to throw herself into her passion and signed up for Fundamentals of Gardening with Program Coordinator Daryl Beyers. From there, she ended up planting over 250 perennials and annuals. She ripped out dead vines to create new shade gardens, built brick walking paths inside the beds, put pea stone all along the garden border, bought raised beds for vegetables and herbs, and scavenged containers that were buried all over the property. “Working on this garden provided me a way to stay outdoors all day and survive the lockdown,” says Nelson. As the months continued, she signed up for more classes such as Mastering the Art of Tomato Gardening, Introduction to Plant Science, Perennial Plant Combinations, Basic Plant ID, and Introduction to Bulbs.

“I happily jumped in and planted everything that appealed to me in any old place. It has been so thrilling to watch everything grow and change. Many did beautifully, many tanked, but it’s all been a complete pleasure—I’ll be in this endeavor for years,” she said.

The added benefit of this beautiful, timely garden is that Nelson is able to enjoy it with her mother. In a way to ease her mother’s memory loss, she walks the garden with her every day, describing the plantings, and together they find renewed joy and astonishment in how amazing it looks.

A huge thank you to NYBG’s Gardening Program Coordinator Daryl Beyers and all of our instructors—thank you for continuing to grow and nourish our community of gardeners!

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