March 25, 2015

Bringing Spring to Loved Ones with Limited Mobility

Tips from HPCG’s Horticultural Therapist

“Alice” just wanted to see her tomato planter kit. A patient with Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro (HPCG), Alice loved gardening but could no longer get outside. And her favorite flowers, her hydrangeas, could not be seen from the window.

So Sally Cobb, HPCG’s horticultural therapist, worked with Alice’s husband to find a solution: “We went out and took a picture of the hydrangeas and blew it up big, into a poster, and put it on her wall,” Cobb said. Alice could then see her hydrangeas every day.

Spring is blossoming around the Triad, but for some patients, getting outside is difficult. Yet those with limited mobility, time or space do not need to miss out on the joy and healing power of nature. Cobb suggests bringing the outdoors in. Just one of these simple acts can brighten a loved one’s world.

Create a sensory basket.

sensory basket flowers, spring 2015Fill a basket with a variety of plants—flower buds, pinecones, leaves. The contents do not need to be sophisticated, just varied. Simply feeling different textures and smelling various aromas can invigorate and restore.

Allow them to assemble vases.

Flowers in the Kids Path GardenCobb often brings buckets of fresh flowers to homes or long-term care facilities and invites patients to assemble vases. “It’s important to empower them to do it themselves, to let them continue loving what they love,” she said.

Optimize their view.

Birdfeeder and potted plantsPlacing a birdfeeder outside the window or filling a pot with seasonal flowers will invite interesting creatures and enliven a daily perspective.


Tape nature posters to blank walls.

Picture 084editedEspecially if patients are confined to their beds, a view of an impressive landscape or their favorite flowers can transform bland into beautiful.


Sally Cobb and her team of volunteers tend gardens for patients and families, hang birdfeeders, improve surroundings and empower people through interaction with nature. To tour the gardens at HPCG (pictured here) or learn more about HPCG’s services, call 336.621.2500.