Improving Body and Mind for Members of the Mercy Housing Garden Club

Low-income senior women thrive on learning, socializing, fresh air and exercise, and the benefits of growing fresh food, herbs and flowers.

Flowers are like food for the soul, and are particularly loved by the participants of the garden therapy group at Mercy Housing Reynoldstown, in Atlanta, Georgia. Mercy Housing serves low-income seniors in an independent living community.  Their garden club group, comprised of women, thrive on the learning, socializing, fresh air and exercise, and the benefits of growing fresh food, herbs and flowers.

On a hot summer day, gardening activities were brought indoors to make floral arrangements with their homegrown flowers.  Research studies have shown how this hands-on activity is therapy for the mind and can improve cognitive performance through focused attention, sensory stimulation, sequencing, and fine motor skills.  It’s also incredibly fun and relaxing.

Each garden club participant was excited to select from a variety of visually stunning cut flowers – from the blooms of intensely blue hydrangeas, scented lavender, and bright pink zinnias  - to create their own personal arrangement.  One participant told us that her arthritis was very painful that day and she did not think she could participate. Trellis staff modified the activity allowing the participant to select her choice of flowers and the container, and staff would help her create the arrangement, which involved trimming stems and inserting them into a solid foam block inside the container. After about five minutes of staff help, she took over the entire process and actively worked on her arrangement for 45 minutes!  Guided by the simple beauty of nature, garden therapy can reduce barriers to participation, allowing one to lose themselves in the beauty and wonder of nature.