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A place to appreciate nature

Evergreens’ community takes original approach to gardening

Special to The Sun: The garden at Moorestown retirement community The Evergreens has a greenhouse and 20 plots that include vegetables, wildflowers and pollinator plants.

Walk through the resident garden at the Moorestown retirement community Evergreens and you’ll find yourself surrounded by pollinator plants; vegetables; brightly colored flowers; and a greenhouse, among other sights.

“To see things grow from seed, I mean that’s a big, big thing for me,” said George Boehmler, member of the community’s garden committee. “To start things from seed and see them bloom eventually or produce fruit – it’s like God’s miracle.”

As of June, the garden has 20 medium-size plots and seven giant plots with 100% occupancy. Plots are designed for flower growing, pollination and/or vegetables, and this year the committee hopes to continue the placement of floral arrangements in strategic locations.

Fellow garden committee member Heinz Hegmann connected with Boehmler when he moved to The Evergreens five years ago. He grows pollinators in his plots, and he thinks of them differently.

“They’re like children,” he said of his flowers. “You think about them … This one is growing, this one needs water, this one’s blooming … You just sit there and enjoy nature.”

“It’s a quiet, beautiful moment.”

“They are living things, not unlike human beings,” Boehmler noted. “They are living things and should gain a lot more respect than they do.”

Boehmler’s love of gardening started with summers as a child picking fruit and vegetables with cousins at his grandparents’ farm in South Jersey. He propagates and sells house plants and flowers and donates the money to charitable and environmental organizations in town, or uses it to purchase equipment that’s needed for the greenhouse garden. 

Boehmler moved to The Evergreens 12 years ago and appreciates gardening and the club.

“It’s a great activity, a way to spend part of your day in nature,” he observed. “I really do enjoy being able to have the wherewithal to donate to these organizations that I think could benefit from our work. I like the beauty of the garden too, as well as the vegetables.”

“I just like everything about it.”

Special to The Sun: This Evergreens’ plot has four different pollinator plants for monarchs and other butterflies, birds and bees.

Garden committee chair Jack Kolb shared his three-prong approach to gardening.

“Fresh flowers for enjoyment, pollinating flowers and then vegetables,” he explained. “That’s the way I look at it, and each of those has their own function and their own use. We’re excited about them all.”

“Jack has been a great leader,” Boehmler said. “He has great ideas, and he brings them to fruition.”

The garden club’s upcoming activities include a presentation at The Evergreens by Mark Pensiero, president of STEM (Save the Environment of Moorestown), followed by a bus tour to a pollinator field project owned by the township but operated, managed and developed by STEM.

Next month, Burlington County Beekeepers Society president Eloise Naylor   will host the group’s annual meeting at The Evergreens to see its garden bees, followed by an indoor honey tasting. The committee is also working on a field trip to the Paws Farm in Mount Laurel.

“After I moved here and found out there was a resident garden, I was very happy, because I could keep my garden influence and still get my fingernails dirty in the dirt,” said Margo Foster, garden committee member. “I am very happy that we have this facility, and it’s fun to work in the garden.”

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