Residents at Mission Australia’s aged care facility, Benjamin Short Grove reaped the therapeutic benefits of gardening on Tuesday during its second annual flower show.
The residents of Benjamin Short – which provides aged care for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage in the Orange and Cabonne Shire regions – created floral arrangements from plants sourced mostly from the facility’s gardens.
Dave Morgan has been a resident of the facility for nine months. He has taken part in the gardening program facilitated through the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s Community Greening initiative on and off throughout that period.
He said he became a resident after his Sydney roommate died and his rent became unaffordable.
His son in Orange suggested he move back to the Central West to be closer to his family.
He said he counts himself lucky to have found a new home at the facility, where spending time in nature is a familiar way to relax.
“I have a horticulture ticket and I grew up working on orchards out at Pinnacle Road,” he said.
“Being here has become part of my life now – I really appreciate this place.”
The Flower Show entries were judged by Orange Botanic Gardens Supervisor Neil Bollinger, with Jay French, who is an apprentice at the Orange Botanic Gardens after training with the Aboriginal Education team at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney last year.
Each of the 58 men and women who live in the facility at the moment voted for their favourite and all 15 who entered the competition received recognition for their work.
Community Greening’s Elizabeth Docking has run monthly workshops to teach plant propagation and to create artwork for the facility’s garden.
She said during the flower show on Tuesday one of the residents who suffers from dementia and is regularly in tears had a huge smile on her face all morning.
Mrs Docking said the gardening has shown to “engage and uplift” residents and provide them with a sense of self achievement.
“It helps them realise they have abilities that they actually didn’t know they had,” she said.
Mrs Docking said the facility will install a sand therapy bed in the gardens this year to provide more opportunities for the men and women who call it home to relax.
With the help of Mrs Docking, as well as Benjamin Short’s lifestyle coordinator Wendy Nappier and the gardening program’s Paul Davidson, residents will continue to hone their green thumbs in order to enter the Orange Agricultural Show.
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