On the way to the Community Health Clinic in the Health Center there is a long, wide corridor with windows on each side filled with light, sunshine and beautiful live flowers. Planters on the windowsills are filled with huge geeranium blooms in shades of pink to classic reds and whites. Dark green leaves and prolific, trailing “tradescantia” form a contrasting background of color and form.
This year-round living plant display is a cheerful, distracting sight for residents on their way to clinic appointments. Health Center residents heading down the corridor in the opposite direction pause to admire the flowers before reaching their large dining room at the end. Several people said the flowers help them find their way to the dining room.
Roz Rocco tends to flowers in the Health Center. Photo by Joe Mengel.
Gardeners certainly know that this pristine display has to be tended by an experienced plant lover. Roz Rocco is the twice-a-week, volunteer care-giver. Unless you’ve happened to see her with watering can and pruners in hand, you might not be aware of her dedication. She has been a “tenured” volunteer for nine years. Her job began, she said, “when I offered to show a patient how to care for the plants, but unfortunately I found that the plants did not survive the over-watering and too much TLC. It was time for me to take over maintenance in the ‘brezeway.'”
Over the years Roz experimented with other plant material but was happy to find that geraniums thrived in this location and, besides, she could easily take cuttings to replace leggy, tired plants. Last fall, Roz enlisted help from landscaping staff to replant and refresh. New planters, potting soil and Miracle-gro have worked their magic.
Roz credits her husband, John, for making the whimsical wooden, hand-painted “plant pokes” that decorate the planters with charming seasonal themes. John even makes replacements when the wooden sticks rot. Roz credits another loyal volunteer, Bettie Converse, for taking care of the live foliage plants in wall planters all over the health center. When Roz finishes her job on the “garden path,” she wheels her supply card to the other end of the health center where she cares for more planters in a cozy, cheerful sitting room.
Roz and John have graciously welcomed visitors to their villa garden during every special tour of Carolina Meadows residents’ gardens; it is one of the most beautiful. Roz admits, “I’m trying to cut back my garden, but it’s very hard. The roses, especially, are a lot of work.”
Explaining her gardening expertise, Roz says, “Coming from a farm family, the love of gardening is in my blood.” She continued gardening after she and John bought their home in Armonk, N.Y. They retired here in 2001 and still have two plots in the residents’ community garden. Roz often leaves cut flowers at the Health Center nurses’ station to be distributed to residents there.
From resident PR Committee member Pat Ballard