Lifelong Learning is a form of voluntary, recreational learning for adults of any age looking to enrich their lives. Our Lifelong Learning Program strives to fulfill the mission of Naples Botanical Garden, to connect people and plants, by offering classes on gardening, horticulture, nature-inspired art, and our local natural environment. Additionally, Lifelong Learning provides special lectures given by nationally-recognized and world class speakers.
What is a docent?
Docents are volunteers who conduct scheduled shifts in our themed gardens and natural areas. Additionally, some docents lead observation- and inquiry-based tours through the Garden. Their role in stimulating visitor curiosity and facilitating learning is essential to our mission of connecting people with plants.
Who can become a docent?
No formal experience is necessary to become a docent. The only requirements are enthusiasm and commitment to learning and engaging visitors. The Garden provides all required training for new and continuing docent volunteers. Docents are required to commit to one 3-4 hour shift per week (seasonally) and volunteer.
Why become a docent?
Service as a docent is uniquely rewarding and fulfilling. Docents have the opportunity to interact with people of varied backgrounds and experiences – from visitors and Garden staff to visiting professionals in the world of botanical gardens. Docents are provided the opportunity for continuing education through special workshops and regular enrichment activities.
For more information on volunteering at the Naples Botanical Garden please email our Volunteer Manager or reach us by phone at (239) 325-1932.
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.
What is Horticulture Therapy?
As the name suggests, it is a process that uses plants and plant-related activities through which participants strive to improve their well-being through active or passive involvement.
In a therapeutic horticulture program, health goals are not clinically defined and documented, but may include any of the seven domains of well-being; physical, emotional, intellectual/cognitive, vocational, social, spiritual or environmental. Gardening is a positive activity and can provide decreased stress and increased physical activity. Please contact us at (239) 643-7275 for more information about therapeutic horticulture programs now available at the Garden.