It’s a sunny day outside in the Great Room garden of Providence’s long-term care home, the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence. Hidden under one of the cloth pergolas behind a table encased in colourful annual blooms and decorative hanging plants is the Houses’ ‘unofficial’ in-house gardener, Activation Assistant Nina Borgh (pictured).
“We have 22 urns around the Houses.I’m getting them ready to fill with flowers,” she says while stopping to adjust some snapdragons. “I remember when my mom was staying here. The colours would always make her smile. I would come to visit and there would be big, beautiful urns outside the Houses greeting you as you entered.”
“I wanted to create a similar experience for all the people who live here now.”
So with a small budget from Providence’s Environmental Services department, Nina puts her green thumb to the test. She travels to and from various stores on her way to work, seeking out the most cost-effective options that will add the most pizzazz to the Houses’ balconies and gardens.
“The marigolds don’t smell the best, but you plant them next to tomatoes to help with the bugs. Ferns are great because they’re low maintenance. We just have to make sure they’re shaded and get watered regularly.”
Nina’s been adding a fragrant touch of colour to the Houses for more than eight years. “I enjoy seeing the residents’ light up when they see the planters. For some of them, it brings back memories of their own gardens.”
Standing by the Madonna statue she points out a mandevilla climbing vine that’s a little droopy.
“It’s in shock right now – I just planted it. But give it a week to adjust and some tender care and it will come back and be breathtaking.”