Parker Jewish Institute embraces the healing properties of horticulture

Parker Jewish Institute embraces the healing properties of horticulture
Patrick Fogarty, a Parker employee, leads the institute's horticultural efforts. (Photo courtesy of the The Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation)

The Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation is embracing the therapeutic and restorative power of gardens and plants, engaging the center’s patients and residents, as well as their families.

Flowers and foliage are plentiful at Parker, from its entranceway, outdoor solarium and children’s playground, and up to the center’s physical therapy gym and “Eldergrow” program, a garden club through which patients and residents enjoy indoor gardening.

Leading the horticultural effort is Patrick Fogarty, a Parker employee who works in the institute’s facility operations.

“We ran out of room in the garden club, and patients are always giving me more flowers,” said Mr. Fogarty, who, growing up, learned all about gardening from his mother.

Noting the streaming sunlight at Parker’s physical therapy gym, Mr. Fogarty secured space on the windowsill to germinate seeds that would later be transplanted in the garden. Now, the room is brimming with greenery– coleus, lettuce, begonias and more – and adds a focal point for conversation at the gym.

Enhancing the aesthetics in the room, the plants are also incorporated into therapy for patients and residents. Plant care, where appropriate, is integrated into activities of daily living, with a focus on balance and coordination. And whether they are helping to care for the plants, or simply observing, visitors to the gym enjoy talking about the progress of this impromptu mini-garden.

“The horticulture program enables everyone to contribute to our community,” said Michael N. Rosenblut, Parker’s president and CEO.

Large planters and garden boxes are abundant with flowers, whether at the entrance, alongside the playground or on the patio where residents and families enjoy meals and a chat.

This is largely thanks to Mr. Fogarty’s green thumb. It’s a role he’s maintained ever since the previous outside vendor retired.

“I volunteered to help out,” he said.

He’s built a “makeshift greenhouse” at home to keep the plants in winter, including hibiscus, tropical banana trees and more.

The plethora of plants was featured at the Mother’s Day plant sale, where “every single item was sold,” he said.

Right now Mr. Fogarty is growing radishes, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, and herbs.
And the effort, he said, is well worth it.

“There are flowers everywhere,” he added. “Just to see the residents enjoy makes my day.”

Submitted by the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation

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