For almost two years I have been working with residents in the therapy garden at Mission Australia’s aged care facility, Benjamin Short Grove in Orange. Last week, I had the great pleasure to be part of the second annual Benjamin Short Grove Flower Show where the residents proudly present their collection of dazzling floral masterpieces.
After honing their skills over several months, the residents created floral arrangements using plant materials mostly sourced from the facility’s garden which were grown and nurtured by them with my assistance.
The Flower Show entries were judged by Neil Bollinger, Orange Botanic Gardens Supervisor and chief judge Jay French, who is an apprentice at the Orange Botanic Gardens after training with the Aboriginal Education team at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
Months of preparation
To prepare for the Flower Show, the residents attended my monthly workshops where they learned how to propagate plants, grow seedlings and create artwork for the garden. The plants propagated and sourced were chosen for their potential use in activities such as show entries.
Between workshops, each participant has been responsible for watering and caring for the plants - with the encouragement and help of the Building Manager, Paul Davidson.
The Flower Show generated a really positive vibe at Benjamin Short Grove on the day. The residents arrived early to work on their entries and were so proud of their floral creations.
A green thumbs up
Staff and visitors were impressed and sometimes surprised by the newly discovered talents of the 15 entrants. It’s a great lead up activity to build confidence for entering the Orange Agricultural Show in May.
No project has provided me with more job satisfaction than working with the residents and staff of Benjamin Short Grove. It is such a positive environment, as we strive to make the garden therapy projects engaging whilst creating a beautiful outdoor space. It is a thrill to watch a facility come to life and bond through gardens.
The inaugural Benjamin Short Grove Flower Show in 2018 was a success, which saw residents go on to win 10 prizes at the Orange Agricultural Show that year, all within months of the official opening of the facility. Stay tuned to see the fruits of our labour presented in May.
"Many people who live at Benjamin Short Grove have experienced homelessness and disadvantage and we have seen them really flourish since arriving here. While receiving specialised support, they’ve had the opportunity to participate in lots of leisure and lifestyle activities including gardening, floral arranging, art and craft." said Mission Australia Director of Care, Kim Dillon.
See how Community Greening has changed the lives of many disadvantaged people across New South Wales in the video below.
Learn more about Community Greening and how to get involved here.