Did you know there was a garden in the west wing at Springmoor? It’s a surprise to many who don’t walk down this hallway on a daily basis. The Garden Room is a beautiful sunny greenhouse for residents to tend to their plants in the winter months. There is ample counter space where everyone in the community can bring their plants from their patios and porches during the coldest months of the year.
Residents Rachel Manning and Audrey Austin have been taking care of everything in the Garden Room for years. Both say they have learned their gardening skills through trial and error. Both ladies say they have always preferred to be outside, playing golf or digging in the dirt. Rachel, a former Master Gardener, can help answer questions about your plants or find someone who can if she doesn’t know. Audrey says her plant knowledge comes from years of experience.
When she was young her mother wanted her out of the kitchen, Audrey says. Her mom said she broke too many dishes. She sent her outside to play and it’s there that Audrey learned to garden. She has always had a flower garden and now at Springmoor she has two. In her ground floor apartment, sitting on her patio or looking out the window, she realized she sees more of her neighbor’s yard than her own. She joked with John Pearson, her neighbor, one day saying that she was going to plant flowers in his yard to brighten her view and send him the bill. He laughed and said, “Please do!” And she has ever since. The two yards are filled with rows of her favorite pansies and many other blooming species. And he continues to pay the bill!
Red pepper, she says, is the best advice she can offer for keeping the deer and the squirrels from eating the pansies. When they are first planted in the ground, she adds the pepper. For the first three weeks, until the pansies are well established, she goes out each morning to replant them from the animal’s early morning walk through her garden. After a rain or every few days, she adds more pepper. The animals soon realize this is not a good spot for grazing and move on. There is a hawk also, she says, that has helped keep things in order on the north side of the campus.
Rachel went through the Wake County Master Gardener program and has volunteered on the Springmoor Building and Grounds committee for many years. As a Master Gardener, you become part of the volunteer staff of NC State University’s Cooperative Extension Service. A member provides educational assistance and programs in horticulture and environmental issues to the gardening public. Rachel remembers going through the rigorous training program and being interviewed by former Springmoor residents, Bob and Betty Cook. Bob was the Assistant Dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University and Betty served as a Home Economics Extension Agent for Wake County. The three later became neighbors at Springmoor and all volunteered with the Building and Grounds Committee.
Rachel has a small flower garden now under her balcony. She, along with Kathleen and Jim Perry, have planted a beautiful garden on the path between the villas and the east wing. The azaleas, hydrangeas and dogwoods, carefully attended by Rachel along the bank, brighten everyone’s day as they walk through the woods. Rachel has a much larger zinnia garden in South Village during the summer months. She shares her flowers with those in the Stewart Health Center as well as with her neighbors. She looks forward to planting tomatoes also in her larger garden in just a few weeks.
Thom Morgan, Springmoor’s Landscape Architect, not only manages the upkeep of our 42-acre campus but he also helps in the Garden Room and in the Resident Garden. Thom and his crew will help transport the resident’s large plants from the patios to the greenhouse for winter storage. If Rachel and Audrey spot a fungus or a bug on any of the plants, he comes to spray. In the next few weeks, he will till the soil for the thirty resident garden plots located in South Village. He helps provide answers to many questions about indoor and outdoor plants.
The Garden Room
Rachel and Audrey take turns each month working in the Garden Room. While they are not responsible for watering or pruning all the plants, they will call to remind a resident if theirs needs a little TLC. They watch for bugs and fungus and alert Thom when necessary. The window overlooking the room is always cheerfully decorated for the season. Rachel was quick to say that, with Audrey’s many years in the classroom, she has lots of decorative items to use for the months when it is her turn.
The room is beginning to empty now as the temperatures outside are rising. The porches are filling up with plants again. The lemon tree that has been filled with dozens of lemons has found its way home again. The orchids, however, seem to stay throughout the year as the sun and warmth of the room make it a much better environment for the tropical plants. Audrey has kept hers in the Garden Room for years. Still in its original tiny pot, new shoots continue to grow with only a few sprinkles of water each week.
Rachel and Audrey
The two are active gardeners and deserve a round of applause for all they do to keep the Garden Room green. Audrey has been at Springmoor for eighteen years and says she thinks she has served on every committee here. Rachel has been a resident for the past nine years and also continues to be an active volunteer in the community. They both can be found in the library quite often working their shift at the checkout desk or selecting new books for Springmoor to purchase. But most often, they will be found digging in the dirt. The television is for watching golf or the news; the sunshine and warm weather are for being outside!
If you would like to see the Garden Room or schedule a tour of the beautiful gardens and the campus at Springmoor, please call us at 919-234-7626.