Garden for Alzheimer's Patients
My garden club is working on a plan to plant perennials in a garden
space behind the Alzheimer's Care Unit of a nearby nursing home. The
existing garden is strictly foliage at this point. The facility has good
bones in place, with empty areas waiting in both sun and shade for us to
fill with low-maintenance perennial ornamentals and groundcovers. The
patients already love the garden and we're looking forward to making it
even more special to them.
It's been fun brainstorming, like planning a garden for kids. Plants
that are soft, sweet-smelling, exceptionally colorful, or a fun shape
will be given preference. Plants selected have to be tough enough to
take handling once they're established. Parts of the plants will no
doubt be picked, stripped, or broken on a regular basis. But the
trickiest part of deciding what to plant is figuring out which
perennials are nontoxic, since the folks who will be enjoying the
flowers also eat them! I've been through my books on poisonous plants
and will do a web search on each of the club's final selections to make
sure--to the best of my ability--that we are not creating any risks.
I believe the following plants *are* toxic?: hardy geranium, lily,
hemerocallis, lily of the valley, hosta, Chinese lantern, poppies,
tulips, tansy, narcissus, vinca, hosta, aquilegia, ivy, baptisia, and
boxwood. But what about Russian sage, phlox, solidago, chrysanthemums,
Japanese anemones, heuchera and heucherella, brunnera, pennisetum
alopecuroides "Hamelyn", ribbon grass, lambs ears, violas, buddliea
davidii, spirea, perennial snapdragons, alliums, lilac, honeysuckle,
achillea, dianthus, silver mound, and balloon flowers? (mishmash of
latin and common names appearing as they come to mind) All the above
have been suggested.
Comments? Favorite "children's plants" that might work well? Input would be greatly appreciated!
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