I hope that you and your loved ones enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and that 2017 is off to a great start. We remain extremely busy landscaping the Chapman Healing Garden and initiating the winter/spring semester therapeutic horticulture programming in the Greenhouse at Wilmot Gardens. In addition, the routine maintenance of the gardens is nearly a fulltime job so everyone is working at full capacity.
The 2016 Fall Plant Sale on December 3 and 4 was very successful. Camellias, azaleas and roses sold well in the outdoor Commons area, while Christmas cacti, a wide variety of succulents and miniature terrariums were very popular items in the greenhouse. More than 70 volunteers provided their expertise during the one and one-half day event and we thank each and every one for their efforts to make the sale a success. Also, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge our staff, Leah, Steve and Bailey – as well as Tom Harris, the CFO, for their outstanding commitment to ensure a successful event.
The year 2017 begins with a new member on our staff, Ms. Jennifer Weis, who recently accepted our invitation to serve as the coordinator of education, training and job placement activities in the autism program. Ms. Weis brings over 20 years of experience working to improve the lives of children and young adults with various disabilities including the lives of those with autism and the autism spectrum disorder or ASD. Thanks to support from the Walmart Foundation and a major gift from the B.J. and Eve Wilder Family Foundation, we are able to offer a life skills and job skills training program to young adults with autism and ASD that uses gardening as the training platform. The major goal of this program is to facilitate independent living through employment in those with whom we work.
You will notice on our calendar of future events that we will officially dedicate the Chapman Healing Garden on Friday, February 24, 2017. The ceremony will begin at 4:00 p.m. in the gardens and will be followed by a reception in the Conference Center at Wilmot Gardens. We invite all of you to join us to celebrate this very important event in the history of the gardens.
Finally, it is time to enjoy the camellia “bloom” at Wilmot Gardens. Some 200 japonicum cultivars are displaying their many shades of white, pink and red blossoms for all to enjoy. We hope you will come to see this lovely spectacle firsthand.
C. Craig Tisher, M.D., Director, Wilmot Gardens