What’s New in Horticultural Therapy at Magee: Summer Update

The Horticultural Therapy Program at Magee is in full bloom! Our home, the recently renovated Creative Therapy Center and Healing Gardens, is nothing short of spectacular. And we’ve also received wonderful raised garden beds for patients to use in therapy.

The gardens were planted and are maintained by patients, volunteers, myself, and Magee’s Plant Operations team. During the renovations,

OT Lisa Bitton with a patient at the vegetable and herb gardens

we didn’t have the greenhouse in the winter and spring to raise seeds, so we planted vegetable and herb plants for immediate gratification. We planted beets, two kinds of lettuce, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, squash, cucumbers, broccoli, eggplant, red cabbage, tomatoes. and peppers in the vegetable area.

Throughout the summer, we’ve nurtured our gardens with water, fertilizer, and deadheading for new growth. Patients check on their vegetables, and as they are ready, they pick them. Some therapy staff and patients have taken the vegetables to prepare in salads and meals in the OT gym kitchens. Such a great idea! Each week, I’ve alerted therapy staff of what is ready to harvest and also placed some items in the greenhouse to take.

We created a Pollinator Garden to attract beneficial bees and butterflies. This is located near the greenhouse and has wonderful visual appeal as you go by. The plants in this design include Mandeville, small butterfly bush, butterfly weed, lantana, purple cone flower, anise hyssop, and bee balm.

Pollinator and Sensory Gardens

In front of the Pollinator Garden are the Sensory Garden and the Edible Garden. These are accessible and were planted by patients. Pollinators have access to these gardens as well. The Sensory Garden includes different varieties of scented geraniums and lavender. The Sensory Garden is used to connect patients and staff to nature. Smelling and touching the textures are wonderful activities for patients with cognitive issues who aren’t quite ready for planting. Greenhouse volunteers have taken stem cuttings of the scented geraniums to propagate new plants.

The Edible Flower Garden has strawberry plants, chives, marigolds, lemon balm, stevia, nasturtiums, borage, and lavender. The Edible Flower Garden is a teaching garden to expand patient’s awareness of the use of plants. It is practical for the beneficial insects, adding beauty and also usefulness in a culinary fashion. Most of these edible flowers can be used to accent a salad, to add to iced tea and beverages, or to garnish a dish.

We will continue to maintain these gardens until frost. The cool season seeds are being directly sown in the garden as things are harvested. This will expand our growing season. Magee Dining Services has expressed an interest in any vegetables or herbs that need to be used up. Cabbage slaw or beet spirals may be on the menu soon! Seasonal flowers will replace the summer annuals in the surrounding raised beds.

Horticultural Therapist Jeannette Glennon-Morrissey with a patient at the Edible Flower Garden

We enthusiastically welcome friends and family to tour the gardens with their loved ones while they visit. For any questions about Horticultural Therapy, please contact Horticultural Therapist Jeannette Glennon-Morrissey at 215-587-3104 or JGlennon-Morrissey@MageeRehab.org.

The Horticultural Therapy Program is supported by the generosity of individual donors and by the Philadelphia Committee of the Garden Club of America.

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