GREENWICH, Conn. -- With a group of donors, staff and well-wishers in attendance, the Nathaniel Witherell nursing home in Greenwich hosted the grand opening of its new friendship garden Monday, Oct. 31.
The unveiling marked the culmination of a lengthy process that began with months of digging and excavating, followed by the planting of honey locust, redbud and dogwood trees, along with flowering rhododendrons, azaleas, laurels and hydrangeas.
Finally, the topsoil and sod were put down and chrysanthemums were added for a touch of fall color. Now completed, the wheelchair-accessible garden can be appreciated day or night.
“We've installed soft lighting to highlight the landscaping in the evening, and happily, many of the residents can view the garden from their rooms,” said Allen Brown, Witherell’s executive director.
The garden, Brown added, “is a special place where our residents can explore the beauty of the outdoors, whether they do so independently or with their loved ones.”
Located in the heart of Witherell’s campus, the venue was designed to enhance residents' sensory perceptions by including plants that change with the seasons and stimulate the senses.
Along with the trees and shrubs, the garden includes benches, wandering paths and a central fountain.
In addition, a new outdoor deck and furnishings, accessed from Witherell’s indoor café, overlook the venue.
Along the aesthetic improvements it adds to Witherell, the garden has clinical benefits. Studies show exposure to sunlight, nature, plants, flowers and fresh air are natural antidotes to depression, a condition often experienced by nursing home residents.
The sights, sounds and smells of the garden also can engage the senses and provide those with Alzheimer’s and dementia positive emotions that they may no longer experience regularly, helping them reconnect with the outside world.
Fundraising for the project was a collaborative effort, with support coming from a number of private and public sources.
A major donation from Hortulus: A Garden Club of America Garden Club in Greenwich made possible the new outdoor deck, as well as tables, chairs and benches for the deck and garden.
The venue was designed by landscape architect Peter Cummin, principal of Cummin Associates in Stonington, who contributed his firm’s services.
Summer Rain Sprinklers in Greenwich contributed an in-ground sprinkler system.
The Woman's Club of Greenwich also provided support.