For five years, Catherine Humphreys has used her own money to buy all kinds of flowers. She has cared for them in a tiny space between an air conditioning unit and the parking lot next to Ridgecrest Apartments at Richfield Living in Salem.
Now that her eyes and legs aren’t as strong as they used to be, she can’t work in the garden like she once did. But her friends are making sure her garden in the senior community continues, and people know of Catherine’s love for it.
A couple of weeks ago Sue Monroe, Judy Ellison, Eenie Johnson and Nellie Haley surprised her with an embossed metal plaque they placed in the garden, naming it Catherine’s Garden.
The quote by Abram L. Urban reads: “My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.”
The friends have also taken over researching plants, shopping for them, planting, watering and fertilizing the garden. Catherine can sit back and enjoy the annual petunias, impatiens, zinnias, marigolds, geraniums, and perennial hydrangeas, clematis, orange and maroon lilies, azaleas and miniature roses that come back each year.
Judy researches the flowers on the computer to know what will grow best in the spot and what each needs. Nellie is the “water lady” who waters twice a day in recent hot weather. The others plant, fertilize with Miracle Gro, pinch back and weed as needed. This year they topped the planting area with eight bags of mulch.
“Whatever we plant, we check it out with Catherine first,” Judy added.
Catherine explained why she first started gardening at Ridgecrest. “I’ve always raised flowers all my life. The doctor said it was good for me, and helped my heart.”
Because Catherine sold her car and quit driving a year ago, the ladies go on the Richfield bus to nearby stores in Salem and Glenvar where they shop, to Lowe’s for plants, and Northwest Hardware for a new hose and nozzle this year.
They enjoy watching the hummingbirds drawn to the feeder. “I’ve seen tiny ones, babies as little as your finger,” Catherine said.
A few weeks ago they added a little lighthouse to the garden.
In good weather, the friends and others sit outside by the garden several times a day in good weather. They remember how the garden got started. Ridgecrest resident Virginia Lee and Catherine started planting some of their own flowers in a smaller space next to the parking lot, with half of the plants coming from Virginia’s late mother, Mary Carter of Georgia.
As for the surprise plaque, Catherine thinks, “I think it’s awful pretty. That’s the biggest surprise anybody ever gave me.”