On a cool, sunny morning, about 30 adults from the Handicapped Development Center and Vera French Pine Knoll in Davenport descended on the new Enabling Garden in Vander Veer Botanical Park to plant flowers.
The 2,700-square-foot garden with raised-bed containers and a water fountain is designed for people with disabilities, a population that the Davenport Parks and Recreation Department staff says is underserved. Construction began in May and the garden now is finished and ready to go.
In fact, it already is being used, with three people taking an evening class on garden basics that began in September and the flower planting on Tuesday, said Sherrie Fischer, the adaptive and inclusive recreation supervisor for the parks department.
A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at
8 a.m. Monday at the garden, immediately south of the conservatory and west of the park store, 215 W. Central Park Ave.
The garden cost $450,850, a figure that includes making the park store handicapped-accessible to allow direct access to the garden, new windows and air-conditioning in the store so it can be used as classroom, building a mini-kitchen with cabinets and a sink to hold supplies for programs, new lighting, a sound system and new doors to the conservatory that meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The garden space itself consists of three large raised-bed planters as well as planting areas on the perimeter and the water fountain that bubbles and sheets over its side into a drain. The ground surface is covered with permeable pavers, and there is a wood pergola. The plants that were chosen are colorful, and many of them also provide a scent.
The idea behind an enabling garden is that horticulture therapy — being outside in nature and working with plants — is an activity that makes people feel better, is relaxing and stimulates all of the senses, Fischer said.
In addition to serving people with physical and mental challenges, the garden could be used by military veterans, people recovering from a stroke, people with visual disabilities and those experiencing grief, she said.
It is estimated that 25 percent of the people in the community have some sort of differing ability, she said.
To support programming, she has formed a nonprofit group called the United Coalition of Adaptive and Inclusive Recreation.
Members are representatives of 10 Quad-City area agencies such as the Handicapped Development Center, New Choices and the Vera French Community Mental Health Center who will work together to discuss needs and programs, she said. (For more information, go online to ucair.weebly.com.)
In addition to the class being offered now, a parks representative will be in the garden on the second Sunday of each month, and school groups as well as return visits by Pine Knoll residents are expected, Fischer said.
When it is not closed for classes, the garden will be open to the public like any other area of the park, and it will be available to rent.