One of the great pleasures of gardening is being able to cut an armful of flowers and arrange them to bring the beauty of the garden indoors. Some of us at Carolina Meadows are able to do just that, cutting blossoms we’ve planted around our villas. But what about the residents who live in apartments, or those whose villas lie in the shade, or those with physical limitations that prevent being able to garden? Must they be reduced to buying flowers at the local supermarket, flowers of dubious freshness?
Last year one resident, Dixie Spiegel, came up with the idea of creating some Community Gardens. They would function as cutting gardens for all who wished to pick some flowers. She enlisted the help of two Master Gardeners, Martha Stucker and Elaine Norwood, to turn the idea into a reality.
The three of them didn’t have to start from scratch since Carolina Meadows already had a large fenced area with 72 raised garden beds. These had been originally created to serve individual residents who could sign up to plant and cultivate one of the beds. Residents could plant whatever vegetables or flowers they wanted to harvest. In turn, residents were responsible for weeding, watering and maintaining the bed. This system allowed some apartment dwellers and people with too much shade around their villas to have access to their own cutting gardens. However, 72 garden beds didn’t benefit all the Independent Living residents who wanted the joy of cutting flowers, hence the need for Community Gardens.
In February of 2020, Dixie and her cohorts met with Alan Tom (the man in charge of assigning the raised beds,) and asked if there were any unassigned beds that could be designated for the whole Carolina Meadows community. It happened that six plots were available for the project. Alan suggested that two of them should be vegetable beds.
An announcement about the new Community Gardens appeared on Meadowtalk, resulting in many bedding plants being donated to the cause. In addition, 12 residents met and signed up to weed, water and maintain the beds from March through November, which was quite a commitment!
Dixie and Martha did the actual planting of the beds. It was not a difficult task because the height of the beds meant there was no need to kneel on the ground, and the soil the beds contained was wonderful for planting, unlike the heavy clay that makes digging in this region such a back-breaking chore
Residents donated scissors so that flowers could be cut by all who wanted them. They also donated vases. The Residents Association funded the project to the tune of $250 to buy plants and soil additives. For residents who could not, or who did not wish to cut flowers themselves, Doris Bowles and Marcia Friedman serve as florists. They bring special occasion bouquets to people celebrating birthdays or anniversaries or for condolences. For the winter, when the cutting beds are dormant, the Gift and Remembrance Fund donated $600 so that Marcia and Doris could buy flowers to create bouquets. Some small vases were used for “mini” arrangements and given to residents of The Green (our Memory-Care facility.)
Finally, Tom McCarty donated his artistic talents and created signs for the six Community Garden plots. This prevented any confusion on the part of residents who didn’t know which plots were the Community ones.
As the fall of 2020 rolled around, Dixie, Elaine, and Martha planted 75 daffodil bulbs and 50 tulip bulbs. They should provide a dazzling display in the spring of 2021. The bulb beds will then be overplanted with zinnias which will bloom throughout the summer along with perennials like pink daisy mums, coneflowers, white daisies and black-eyed Susans as well as tomatoes, peppers, okra and various herbs. Moreover, there will be seven Community Gardens this year (five for flowers and two for vegetables) which promises a rich bounty for all.