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Master Gardeners manage senior center respite
Forsyth County Master Gardener Emily Moore trims a shrub in the garden at Charles Place. - photo by Crystal Ledford

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A group of volunteers is working to make sure Cumming seniors continue to have an outdoor respite.

Members of Leadership Forsyth’s class of 2007 created a large garden behind Forsyth County’s Center at Charles Place, which provides a range of activities of those age 50 and older.

Since then, the garden spot has been maintained by Forsyth County Master Gardeners.

In April, members of the Master Gardener class of 2013 took over the site.

“I think we’ve been able to get out here and do a little more because we’ve had a larger group of helpers,” said Julie Delano, the garden’s manager.

Delano and two of those helpers, Emily Moore and Ellen Rupert, were busy Thursday morning with tasks such as pruning and trimming the garden’s many shrubs and bushes.

Since April, the group has done a lot of work to the area, including cutting back many of the plants that had become somewhat overgrown. They also removed some flowering plants that had died due to lack of sun and the season’s unusually heavy rainfall.

“We want to make everything as easy as possible for the seniors to access so they can come out here and really use the space,” Rupert said.

Moore said the group has spent about 20 hours each month at the garden, shaping it up and making it more accessible.

“We love being out here and doing this work,” she said.

Kerry Rosewall, an employee of the Center at Charles Place, said the seniors have been making better use of the space since then.

“We love it. It’s just so beautiful back there and [the Master Gardeners] have done such a great job of planning it and keeping it.

“In fact, we’ve started doing more things outside because of it.”

She said in April, a Master Gardener took the seniors on an Arbor Day tour of the garden, helping them identify the different trees at the facility.

At Mother’s Day, the center held a tea in which they used freshly cut flowers from the garden as centerpieces.

Rosewall said often the seniors go out to the garden in small groups to just socialize.

“There’s the gazebo with rocking chairs, so they’ll go out there and sit and talk,” she said.

She noted that senior center employees don’t have the time to properly maintain the garden, so the Mater Gardeners’ efforts are invaluable.

“I don’t have a green thumb and none of us [employees] have the time to [care for the garden] anyway, so the fact that they’re doing this for us is just fabulous,” she said.

Mike Bohn, director of senior services, said he and other staffers hope to get even more use out of the garden spot in the coming months.

He said the senior services wellness director will soon be moving from Sexton Hall in south Forsyth to Charles Place.

“He really wants to start utilizing this garden space a lot more for many of his programs,” Bohn said.

Master Gardeners also hope to eventually add some raised beds, in which seniors could maintain a vegetable garden.

“It would only take three or four to take care of beds,” Moore said. “And many of them have had similar gardens in the past, so they would really enjoy it.”

The Master Gardeners are happy to offer their services in the senior garden as well as many others throughout the county.

“There are so many great opportunities for Master Gardeners in this county,” Rupert said. “It’s a wonderful organization to be a part of because it keeps you busy.”