“Belly Button Height” Gardening

Today was mild with overcast skies.  It looks the rest of the week will be colder with a significant chance of rain and possible wet snow later in the week.  We had some great volunteer help today.  Stan and Jim were out in the Japanese garden working on various projects.  Alan was in for garden clean-up in the sunken garden.  Marleen and Magda came in to tidy up their area which looks ready for more plants to emerge shortly!  Mirjam and Marcia worked their “clean up kung fu” in the English cottage garden and did quite a bit of composting as well. Maury ran some errands and Jenny was in again to prepare labels for this spring.  Dr. Gredler did significant painting and we saw many others as well including Cindy B.  Janice, Big John, Larry and I all worked on various projects with the intention of getting ready for spring, both inside and outside.  While we still have significant garden clean-up to accomplish, we should be able to finish that up as our spring color arrives over the coming weeks.
This blog is an informal approach to showing some “elevated growing opportunities” that may have merit for gardeners that have mobility issues that preclude them from getting up or down easily.  Gardening as we age is a focus of our July 27th Horticultural Therapy Symposium this year (details TBD soon!).  Bringing the garden “up” to a comfortable level is entirely possible but these situations also entail a certain amount of planning and preparation as well.  Durable raised beds should accommodate wet soils and plants, allow for drainage and be relatively easy to empty and repair as needed.  Soil depth is also a consideration as it will relate directly to what will thrive in that location.  Deeper beds have a wider plant palette than shallow ones which will also dry out quicker.  My few sentences on this topic don’t do this concept justice but the photos below are meant to inspire some thoughts on modified garden situations for those that will utilize them and still enjoy the process and rewards of gardening.
modified work table to accommodate wheel chair access (above and below)




 “planting desk” (above and below)


West Madison Agricultural Research Station (above)


 Allen Centennial Gardens (UW-Madison) – above and two below


 Rock County Farm (Janesville, WI) – above


 Chicago Botanic Garden (above and five below)