09 Mar To Grow and Thrive at Park Springs
Orchids, roses and even tomatoes have the reputation that they are hard to grow, but when they are given the right spot and the correct amount of water and light, they grow and thrive – like many Members who move to Park Springs.
For four passionate gardeners who each left their homes and beloved gardens in exchange for life in the luxury continuing care retirement community near Atlanta, it was vital to be able to continue gardening in order to enjoy their lives here to the fullest. To grow and thrive.
On a sunny day in February, before the start of the busy spring planting season, Park Springs Members Dr. John Trotter, Dr. David Morgan, Mrs. Rosalind Webb and Mrs. Elizabeth Carter sat down to discuss what it means to them to be able to garden at Park Springs. Two of them moved to Park Springs more than ten years ago, and two of them moved here more recently.
When Park Springs first opened in 2004, the 54-acre campus, nestled at the foot of Stone Mountain next door to Stone Mountain Park, included a number of raised garden beds. Later on, management made additional lawn space available for cultivation, and currently 27 Members have their own gardening spot.
Every year, raised beds are made available to gardeners on a first come-first served basis. They are welcome to grow any plant, flower or vegetable they’d like, while Park Springs landscapers help with maintaining walkways, providing pine straw and wood chips. The biggest challenge they face while pursuing their love of gardening? Hungry rabbits!
“Gardens are a form of autobiography.”
― Sydney Eddison, Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older
“Look at You!”
“In Florida, I grew orange, grapefruit, key lime, mango trees and bananas, while in my garden in Georgia, I collected many unusual and interesting plants and flowers,” says Mrs. Webb, Master Gardener.
In 2015, Mrs. Webb received a Lifetime Service Award from the Georgia Master Gardeners Volunteer Program, which is under the auspices of UGA Extension.
Even though she misses being able to step right out of her backdoor into her own magnificent yard, she notes that Park Springs’ beautifully landscaped community brings her a lot of pleasure. “It is so peaceful and serene outside that I often take a book to read on one of the benches – surrounded by colorful annuals and perennials that attract masses of butterflies and many different birds.”
Mrs. Webb smiles when she remembers her fruit trees, and the many rare specimens that she has nurtured through the years. She confesses that today, she still greets every new bud or young sprout in her Park Springs garden plot with a “Well, look at you!”
When Dr. David Morgan moved from his home in Sagamore Hills (in Atlanta), he was able to take the orchids from his greenhouse to the large greenhouse at Park Springs. He quickly became known as the ‘Orchid Man’ and is renowned for his expertise and ability to salvage almost any orchid (even discarded plants from Kroger) that other Park Springs Members bring to him.
He volunteers with the Atlanta Botanical Garden in its orchid clinic and as a Docent on Fridays, and he is busy with the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s annual Orchid Daze that runs from mid-February to early April – a riot of the most magnificent and exotic orchids that is a must-see event in Atlanta.
Dr. Morgan grew up in Mississippi, where subsistence gardening was common. His mother grew vegetables year-round and did a lot of canning, and though he clearly inherited her love of gardening, he was first inspired to grow orchids after coming back from a medical convention in Florida.
“A pediatrician who was in charge of decorations had brought some of his own orchids, and after our event, gave me a plant to take home. I put it in a spot in my back yard, kind of forgot about it, and was delighted to see the orchid bloom again weeks later!” remembers Dr. Morgan. “It was such a happy surprise.”
“Spirituality and Joy”
Dr. John Trotter, MD, a retired family practitioner, mentions that his first gardening memory includes growing strawberries. He grew roses at his home in Decatur (Ga.), including the interesting Paul Bunyon rose, which can climb up to 30 feet into a tree, using its thorns to attach itself. At Park Springs, Dr. Trotter has grown roses from seed and enjoys planning for each new season.
His reason to move to Park Springs had less to do with the ability to indulge his love of gardening, but rather with finding the proper care at Cobblestone for his late wife who suffered from dementia. “I wanted to be close to her, and Park Springs provided a safe and caring environment for her. The staff and medical professionals here are top notch, and moving here was the perfect solution for us.”
For him, gardening is an expression of his spirituality. He also welcomes the fact that gardening requires physical as well as mental strength. “Just think about it: it takes a lot of failures to have success in your garden. It takes patience. It also takes getting your hands dirty, and taking care of the weeds – something I never had to do when we lived in Decatur because my wife took care of that.”
“Inspired by Beauty”
Elizabeth Carter’s whole life is inspired by beauty. A retired music teacher and church organist, she moved to Park Springs because she was able to bring her grand piano when she moved here. “We looked for a long time, because where can you find this much space?”
Mrs. Carter was introduced to the joys of gardening by her grandmother who grew foxglove, larkspur, ‘cut and come again’ coreopsis, and many other flowers. Mrs. Carter first started her own garden in Decatur, Ala. Soon, she became involved with the local Garden Club, took many horticultural courses, and ultimately served as a flower show judge. Her specialty was judging chrysanthemums.
A long-time resident of Buckhead (in Atlanta), she became an expert in Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging, by studying the three most popular schools of this exacting discipline (Ikenobo, Sogetsu and Ohara). She notes that “…Japanese flower arranging is not for sissies. Just think of the heavy platters, vases and rocks that are used.”
These days, she paints as much as she gardens, and had her one-woman show at Park Springs in February. “The art program at Park Springs, including the many classes, is outstanding,” she notes. “It is so important to celebrate life with music, art, and flowers.”
To learn more about living at Park Springs by Isakson Living, or to schedule a personal tour of Park Springs, please contact one of Park Springs’ Residency Counselors at 678-684-3300 or visit www.parksprings.com.