Greetings from the Greenhouse!
Once our therapeutic horticulture (TH) programming ends in May, the greenhouse tends to quiet down quite a bit. We still get many summer visitors wandering in to see what’s growing – we’ve even had a good number of sales recently. While we have visitors drop by everyday, this spring and summer we’ve also given many organized tours and TH informational sessions. Several garden clubs and garden circles have visited Wilmot this spring and summer to learn about our projects and programming, and they often pair the visit with their monthly meeting in our conference space. I’ve made recent trips to both The Atrium and Oak Hammock to talk about our programs as well and a group from The Atrium has scheduled a visit to see the gardens for themselves. We also had a large group visit as part of a combined Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and University of Florida Short Course, which gave us the opportunity to introduce the gardens and greenhouse programs to two busloads of interested folks.
One of our favorite groups that visited us this summer was the Baby Gators. This is the third summer they’ve visited and the largest group of kids so far. Over the course of two mornings, we had about 70 five-year-olds visit the greenhouse to explore the plants and participate in a planting activity. We love telling the kids that they can touch any plant they want – gently, of course; the glee on their faces is priceless. This year the kids made a glove garden; a fun project where they plant a different vegetable seed into each finger of a plastic glove with a damp cotton ball and then label each finger with a pen or a sticker. This is a great activity for children because it involves plant education and seed identification, fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, and handwriting skills. As you can imagine, many of these enthusiastic preschoolers needed a bit of help throughout the session and thankfully I had some expert help from several of my therapeutic horticulture volunteers as well as the Baby Gator Camp counselors. We received some great affirmation from both the kids and staff:
I loved the glove garden because we can make our own garden! – Scott
My favorite part was seeing the pea plant. – Yamaan
We liked touching the flowers! — Jessica and Minh-Thu
Thank you Wilmot Gardens for enriching our children’s lives! – Katie White, Summer Camp Coordinator
The activity was a lot of fun for everyone, but most importantly, it was an opportunity to help the children make a connection to plants and nature. That, after all, is what our program is all about; facilitating the connection between people, plants, and nature and the opportunity presented for learning, healing, and community building.
Come see us soon!
Elizabeth “Leah” Diehl, RLA, HTM, Director of Therapeutic Horticulture, Wilmot Gardens