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Golda residents clear a little patch of earth and create a magical "Secret Garden"

Posted: June 19, 2013

When I was a child,my absolutely most favorite book was The Secret Garden. I even reread  it as an adult and still found it enchanting. The musical based on the novel is also a favorite.

Three years ago, some residents asked if they could clear a little patch of earth covered with weeds in rocky soil. I had always dreamed of clearing this eyesore on our otherwise lovely grounds at Golda, but did not have the time or muscle needed to do it. So, I said yes to this trio of sturdy gardeners and before I knew it, rocks were cleared, which would be used later as a rustic border, the soil was broken up and enriched, and little by little plants were added, mostly started from seeds or cuttings from elsewhere.

Each year, the space expanded with our blessing. Chairs appeared under the old tree in the garden and an old plastic table...then an umbrella.  Evenings in the garden were enjoyed by many, munching on slices of watermelon or bunches of grapes,with much relaxed conversation. A resident's cat, Lucy, became the garden mascot,happily ensconced among the flowers ,her leash tied to the tree.

Last year, the family of a former resident asked what they could donate that would be enjoyed by residents out doors. We knew immediately that a sturdy and attractive table and chairs would be much loved and used in our "secret garden."  And it is...joined by a bench built and engraved by a resident with stellar craftsmanship.

Our very own "secret garden" is visited and admired by the Golda community. Our gardeners can be found year round working on it. They have a compost container that is producing good organic fertilizer now, and raspberries, tomatoes, dill ,eggplant, peppers and even a pumpkin are growing now.  The space is small, so edibles are in small numbers, but just growing them has a way of feeding the soul of a gardener.

During my daily lunchtime walk this past winter, I found our gardeners shoveling snow from the walk onto their garden. They explained that the more snow on the garden the better for future growth. There is no end to the joy of gardening for this crew.  We are all the better for it and I now have my not so "secret garden."

Laura Isenberg is Resident Services Coordinator at JCHE's Golda Meir House.

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