the buehler family foundation enabling garden
One of the newer jewels of Naples Botanical Garden is the Buehler Family Foundation Enabling Garden. The term “enabling garden” may be new to many people but it refers to gardens that feature structures and tools that enable people to garden.
Traditionally enabling garden design and programs have been targeted at individuals and groups with special needs but the Buehler Enabling Garden has a broader mandate that includes making gardening easier and more fun for everyone, regardless of physical ability. This design goal is very much in keeping with the concept of universal design – good accessible design benefits all of us, regardless of physical ability.
Here are some of the key features of the Buehler Enabling Garden:
Garden beds that show how by raising the soil level, gardeners can care for plants with very little bending, stooping or reaching. Raised beds also allow us to use shorter, lighter tools.
A variety of bed heights allow people of all abilities a more comfortable gardening experience by limiting reach-distance and bring fragrant, colorful, or highly tactile plants closer to our noses, hands and eyes.
Wonderful to explore with your eyes closed – just let your sense of touch and smell lead you on a tour – or open, vertical gardens add a new dimension to gardening. Our vertical garden is assembled from Wooly Pockets ™.
Adjustable to a gardener’s desired height, hanging baskets are a beautiful vertical display for your garden. In the Buehler Enabling Garden we use them to create a backdrop in the craft pavilion. This shady location allows us to grow unusual begonias and ferns – plants that would wither in the Florida sun.
Ergonomics has reached garden tool design – handles are larger, softer and much easier to grip, especially for those of us who have arthritis. All in all there are well over 100 garden tools from hose holders to leaf rakes that make gardening easier for all of us. The tool shed in the Buehler Enabling Garden has a good selection of these types of tools on display.
Almost every plant in the Buehler Enabling Garden is watered with drip irrigation. This system puts water right at the roots of the plants keeping the plants happy, your back happy and your water bills low! We also use lightweight watering wands to extend our reach for hanging baskets and other plants that may need a little extra water.
Plants for the Senses
Most plants in the Buehler Enabling Garden appeal to the senses or are used as craft material for horticultural therapy programming. Some examples include:
Bamboo muhly, Muhlenbergia dumosa with its arching feathery stems is almost irresistible not to touch as you pass it.
Essential oils on the leaves of herbs such as scented geraniums, Pelargonium spp., basils, Ocimum spp., and Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis are both fragrant in the garden and the backbone of crafts such as potpourri and flavored vinegars.
On a warm day the flowers of Vietnamese gardenia, Gardenia vietnamensis, can fill the garden with their perfumed fragrance and their large, 3-inch white flowers are visually striking.