A garden for all

By on October 5, 2011

By: MICHELLE BRENNER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Making The World A Better Place

By Michelle Brenner There’s a Chinese proverb that says, "If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden."

The evidence of this wisdom is thriving just inside the entrance of Ephrata Manor’s Parkview Heights apartments. It’s more than a flower-filled garden accented by shapely trees and interesting ornaments. It’s an island oasis that has become a sanctuary for living things.

Manor residents, Clint Buch and Marion Brendler, tend the garden and fully appreciate its benefits. It enables them to pursue the interests they enjoyed prior to retiring. Both maintained active lifestyles before moving to the Manor and they continue to practice the same vitality. Although well into their 80’s, they display a vigor that rivals people half their age. Working cooperatively, they share the responsibilities of planting, weeding and maneuvering 125 feet of watering hose. Undaunted by the physical demands of managing the garden, they’re committed to preserving its beauty.

"When I had my own home, I was out in the yard almost every day of the year," said Buch. "I love it, it’s good physical therapy."

In agreement, Brendler claimed, "I’m country. I grew up with gardening. It’s my life."

Although the original structure of the garden was in place when Buch first moved to Parkview Heights, he observed that it needed "loving care," so he volunteered to look after it. His initial efforts were funded by resident donations, however, garden expenses are now financed by Ephrata Manor. Residents continue to support Buch’s vision by providing additional plants. In fact, the expanding lily bed is the result of resident contributions. The garden offers residents an opportunity to preserve the gifts of plants they receive from family and friends. They take pleasure in seeing their flower blooming when they visit the garden. Buch’s goal is to make the garden a benefit to everyone.

"I like to make it nice for myself and other people," he said, "That’s the way I was brought up."

As a result of Buch’s values, the Parkview Heights garden has become a community project aimed at creating a place of beauty and interest. Garden visitors can enjoy a multisensory experience that evolves with the seasons. Turtle doves often nestle in the protective branches of the garden’s sprawling pine tree. Yellow finches and nuthatches are frequent guests at the many feeders. Squirrels regularly dart among the zinnias and snap dragons as colorful butterflies flutter above the blooming shrubs. On closer inspection, the garden’s stationary occupants become visible. From the winding trail of stepping stones, sculptures of a frog, two cats, and a dog can be seen. Even Buch himself becomes a fixture, as he takes an occasional break to sit on a bench, handmade by resident, Willie Stober.

Buch is especially grateful to his co-worker, Brendler, for her contributions to the garden project. Her background knowledge and experience have been assets in developing his vision.

"The soil was pure clay when we started," Brendler said, "It took a lot of work to make the soil good."

In the early spring, she accompanies Buch to the local greenhouses to purchase new plants. While they collaborate over the choices of bulbs, perennials and annuals for the garden, they each give their own personal touches to its changing landscape. With reverence for the area’s history, Buch installed the original mailbox from the house that once stood by the entrance to the Manor. He creatively uses it to store refuse bags for his convenience. Brendler added a mint patch that she uses for making tea. Every Saturday, Buch sweeps the drive circling the garden to keep it looking pristine.

With enthusiasm, Buch and Brendler talk about future plans for the garden. Their joy is obvious as they share humorous anecdotes about their individual roles in the project. For them, the garden is instrumental in helping them live life to the fullest. For others, it is a haven of beauty that will continue to make the world a better place for years to come.

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