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In Full Bloom

Master gardeners transform Village Park Milton’s Memory Care Garden into an oasis for all to gather and grow.

by Kate Ellis, memory care manager

This Spring, resident Ursula Etheridge’s daughters Liz and Joyce provided their gardening expertise to plan and plant a beautiful garden in Memory Care’s courtyard. The pair enlisted the help of residents, many of whom have gardened for decades, to continue to water, weed, and nurture the space daily.

Joyce and Liz Etheridge have been lifelong gardeners inspired by their mother, Ursula. After retiring from teaching in 2013, Joyce enrolled in a Master Gardener class and received her certification. She had always gardened with her students and at home, so it was a natural transition. Joyce is a member of the Headwaters Master Gardeners and frequently volunteers with the Souque Garden Club in Northeastern Georgia, at her church, and at a local native plant garden. Both sisters have been researching plants to stimulate all the senses among those with memory loss. They want to encourage other families who have an interest in gardening to contact Memory Care Manager, Kate Ellis, who is leading the garden project. They view the project as “a work in progress” and are open to new ideas and new volunteers.

As we continue to add to our garden, we strive to create a space that will promote health and well-being through a shared sense of purpose. Not only does nurturing the flowers and herbs provide camaraderie, but it also offers a variety of therapeutic benefits.

The garden features an array of herbs including lemon balm, rosemary, thyme, lavender, oregano, and mint—incorporating therapeutic properties as a part of our mission to use plant-based products for calming activities. Chamomile can be infused into dryer sheets used for bed linens to promote sleep. Sachets of lavender can instill calmness and balance. Mint-infused hair rinses can energize the scalp and hair. Rosemary can be added to massage lotions as part of aromatherapy. With the addition of bird feeders and butterfly bushes (coming soon), the inviting space will flourish with vibrancy and activity.

The garden not only serves as a gathering space for residents of Memory Care, but as a testament to what our residents, families, and community can achieve when working together.