As the Naples Botanical Garden grows …
Everyone will be able to get in on the dirt
From beautiful spaces to healthy food, gardening brings great rewards. For people who are physically challenged, however, numerous obstacles can get in the way of digging in the soil and nurturing growing things. For them, an "enabling garden" is the answer.
COURTESY PHOTO The gumbo limbo, a textured tree with smooth peeling bark, will be included in the Buehler Family Foundation Enabling Garden. An enabling garden can be every bit as beautiful as any garden, with raised beds of flowers and vine-covered pergolas. Such a garden will grace the entrance to the Karen and Robert Scott Florida Garden, part of an extensive collection of gardens being cultivated in the expansion of Naples Botanical Garden.
Within the Scott Florida Garden, the Buehler Family Foundation Enabling Garden will be a model for gardening techniques and structures to help people of various physical abilities enjoy gardening. While the best plants and practices for gardening in Southwest Florida will be emphasized, the most important aspect of the Buehler Garden will be its demonstration of strategies with a sensitivity to the multitude of challenges that face an older population— physical challenges such as arthritis, back and joint pain.
Holley Brian Holley, the Garden's executive director, and Ellin Goetz, designer of the Scott Florida Garden, are working on the enabling garden in consultation with Gene Rothert, manager of the Buehler Enabling Garden and Horticultural Therapy Services at Chicago Botanic Garden. Mr. Holley has been involved with horticultural therapy since 1981. At Royal Botanical Garden
in Burlington, Ontario, his program included training for students in therapy programs, professional development for health-care workers, outreach programs and on-site programming for individuals with special needs. Later he was part of the design team for the award-winning Evans Restorative Garden at Cleveland Botanical Garden. The Buehler Family Foundation provided a $1 million grant to establish, name and
endow the enabling garden.
"We are so pleased to be bringing an enabling garden to the Naples Botanical Garden," said Pat Buehler-Blankenship. "This garden will touch the lives of thousands of Southwest Florida residents and visitors for many generations to come."
Goetz In an enabling garden, raised beds, containers, specialized tools and adaptive watering techniques open up gardening as an activity in a safe, barrier-free way to those with physical challenges. Raised surfaces reduce the need for bending or squatting and put plants at an easy-toreach level. Beds and containers are used at different heights — from 6 inches up to 48 inches.
Some edges are wide to accommodate sitting while gardening; others are narrow so that a gardener in a wheelchair can get closer. Some raised beds have toe cutouts that feet can slide into, getting right up against the wall to use it for support.
Seating in the Buehler Enabling Garden will include individual chairs with arms and benches with backs and arms. Some benches will be placed in areas that are shaded and away from sources of noise so that conversation is easier for people with hearing loss.
But an enabling garden is not only about design; plant selection also plays a key role in stimulating the senses. The Buehler Garden will include many plants that enhance the sensory experience of gardening — plants with aspects such as fragrance, texture, flavor and color. Bright, bold color contrasts are used — which are much easier to see for those with vision impairments. For the taste buds, a wide variety of vegetables and salad greens are grown (kids love this part of the garden, too).
While the Buehler Garden will provide specific demonstrations of accessibility, the philosophy of Naples Botanical Garden in planning its expansion is to provide barrier-free access throughout its 170 acres. Electric scooters will allow physically challenged individuals to access all parts of the Garden, from the birding tower overlooking a saw grass meadow to the grand plaza in the Brazilian Garden and the tree houses in the Vicky C. and David Byron Smith Children's Garden.
Naples Botanical Garden continues to work at creating a world-class tropical garden paradise that will feature exquisite cultivated gardens along with 90 acres of beautifully restored natural habitats. The Buehler Family Foundation Enabling Garden will be an additional bright spot for those who have ever felt restricted in experiencing the full joy of gardening.
For more information on the Buehler
Family Foundation Enabling Garden,
the Garden expansion and activities
including pre-registered visiting times
and Lifelong Learning workshops and
lectures, call 643-7275 or visit www.
naplesgarden.org, where the Garden is