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14 Feb 2019

Garden therapy a winner

For almost two years I have been working with residents in the therapy garden at Mission Australia’s aged care facility, Benjamin Short Grove in Orange. Last week, I had the great pleasure to be part of the second annual Benjamin Short Grove Flower Show where the residents proudly present their collection of dazzling floral masterpieces.

After honing their skills over several months, the residents created floral arrangements using plant materials mostly sourced from the facility’s garden which were grown and nurtured by them with my assistance. 
The Flower Show entries were judged by Neil Bollinger, Orange Botanic Gardens Supervisor and chief judge Jay French, who is an apprentice at the Orange Botanic Gardens after training with the Aboriginal Education team at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Leisure and lifestyle staff Leanne and Wendy from Benjamin Short Grove, Jay our chief judge and his manager Neil Bollinger from Orange Botanic Gardens
The team behind the successful flower show: Leanne and Wendy from Benjamin Short Grove, Elizabeth Docking from Community Greening, Jay and Neil Bollinger from Orange Botanic Gardens. 

Months of preparation

To prepare for the Flower Show, the residents attended my monthly workshops where they learned how to propagate plants, grow seedlings and create artwork for the garden. The plants propagated and sourced were chosen for their potential use in activities such as show entries.

Between workshops, each participant has been responsible for watering and caring for the plants - with the encouragement and help of the Building Manager, Paul Davidson.

The Flower Show generated a really positive vibe at Benjamin Short Grove on the day. The residents arrived early to work on their entries and were so proud of their floral creations.

The team behind the successful flower show: Leanne and Wendy from Benjamin Short Grove, Elizabeth Docking from Community Greening, Jay and Neil Bollinger from Orange Botanic Gardens. 
The residents learned how to propagate and nurture the flowers for the show.

A green thumbs up

Staff and visitors were impressed and sometimes surprised by the newly discovered talents of the 15 entrants. It’s a great lead up activity to build confidence for entering the Orange Agricultural Show in May.

No project has provided me with more job satisfaction than working with the residents and staff of Benjamin Short Grove. It is such a positive environment, as we strive to make the garden therapy projects engaging whilst creating a beautiful outdoor space. It is a thrill to watch a facility come to life and bond through gardens.

The inaugural Benjamin Short Grove Flower Show in 2018 was a success, which saw residents go on to win 10 prizes at the Orange Agricultural Show that year, all within months of the official opening of the facility. Stay tuned to see the fruits of our labour presented in May.

benjamin short grove, community greening, mission australia
Residents who don't normally participate spent hours working together to create their masterpieces.


"Many people who live at Benjamin Short Grove have experienced homelessness and disadvantage and we have seen them really flourish since arriving here. While receiving specialised support, they’ve had the opportunity to participate in lots of leisure and lifestyle activities including gardening, floral arranging, art and craft." said Mission Australia Director of Care, Kim Dillon.

See how Community Greening has changed the lives of many disadvantaged people across New South Wales in the video below. 

Learn more about Community Greening and how to get involved here.

Growing communities with gardens - an audio journey 

Discover the research and the real experiences of the program in our Branch Out podcast below with Phil Pettitt from Community Greening, Dr Truong from Western Sydney University and Norbert from a Sydney community garden.

Subscribe to Branch Out on your iOS or Android app to receive fortnightly science and horticulture episodes. If you like the show, please leave a five-star rating and a positive review, it helps more people find us. 

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