The garden that Grandpa Sal and Grandma Rose had in Queens was a sight to see! There were two fig trees, a raspberry bush, and all of the vegetables that Grandpa started including tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, and long Indian squash that hung from the garage roof.
That changed after Grandpa Sal died and Grandma developed Alzheimer’s. Although we tended the garden, none of us in the family had my grandparents’ gift for growing things.
On nice days, my mother-in-law Lucy would take her mother out into the garden in a wheelchair to try to cheer her up. But she soon realized that Grandma Rose was not really able to enjoy the garden from her chair. She couldn’t get close enough to the plants to see how they were growing or bend down to look at them.
That’s when Lucy came up with the idea of a raised container garden for Grandma Rose. She put large pots of vegetable and herb plants on benches and chairs and arranged them in a row. Now Grandma could easily reach her plants from her wheelchair.
From what I observed, it did seem to give Grandma some happiness. She would touch and inspect the leaves, and she seemed quiet and serene. I am sure that the familiar smells of the tomato plants and basil leaves brought back pleasant memories for her.
I think that this is one of the easiest and best garden ideas around — particularly for a gardener with limited mobility like Grandma Rose. Put pots of plants on old wooden chairs, benches, or maybe an old door or tabletop propped up on cinderblocks. This raises the plants so they’re easier to reach without bending down. And you’ve given new life to old furniture pieces that may have been thrown away. For a clean, uniform appearance, paint all of the separate pieces the same color, arrange them in a row and you have a nice, tidy garden that is easy to tend.
And when the cooler weather comes around, it’s easy to dismantle the garden. Just bring larger pots inside to a porch and put small herb pots on a sunny windowsill.
This post was originally published on August 12, 2020.