“I’m in love with plants!”

That is Alpha Manor resident Sylvia’s instant response when asked why she volunteers in PPH’s greenhouse. Love of plants is certainly what brings PPH residents and outside volunteers to our campus greenhouse. Here are a few of their stories.

Sylvia tending to the greenhouse plants!

The Green Queens

Kate and Lorraine, two local volunteers, are elated to be back in the community and volunteering in the greenhouse. (Both women also use PPH’s swimming pool, and Lorraine often visits with her friend Heidi while she’s on campus.)

COVID-19 protocols kept volunteers away for most of 2020 and parts of 2021, but now the two are back in action in the greenhouse, which is beneficial not only for the plants’ well-being, but for Kate’s and Lorraine’s as well.

“It’s a nice place; everyone is friendly,” Kate says.

Kate loves all aspects of gardening, and her specialty is propagation, the technique of creating new plants from existing ones. She and Lorraine met years ago at a Master Gardener class in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and became friends and carpool buddies once they discovered they lived a short distance from each other here in Northeast Philadelphia.

Lorraine credits former PPH resident Kris — a mainstay at the greenhouse who passed away a few years ago — with getting her involved in the nursery here. “I learned a lot from Kris,” she says.

The Plant Doctors Are in

One Tuesday morning, Alpha Manor resident Lucille arrives at the greenhouse with her aloe plant. The group hops right into action. Taking the sickly patient quickly to an examining table, they diagnose its illness and begin propagating parts of it. They tell Lucille they’ll give her plant the tender loving care that it needs and to come back in a couple of weeks.

You guessed it: The greenhouse is a houseplant clinic of sorts. Volunteers will re-pot a damaged plant, adding fresh soil and giving the fragile visitor the proper tending it needs. (Oftentimes the plant is over-watered, rather than parched and thirsty.) And the greenhouse becomes a crowded home in the wintertime. Many residents will drop their leafy roommates off in December and not pick them up until springtime.

Greenhouse Beautiful

Marie, an Alpha Manor resident for 10 years, began working in the greenhouse after a resident named Ernie asked her to get involved. Marie gets a lot of compliments on her seasonal decorations throughout the year. (She says her favorite is Halloween.)

Across from the ACE Center, many Alpha Manor and Gateway Manor residents walk by to get to different areas of the campus, often stopping to take in the scenery.

“One man [a few years ago] would sit in his wheelchair and take a nap,” Marie explains, noting the peaceful aura. “The plants take all the bad air and turn it into good air.”

“Plants affect people and how they heal,” Kate adds.

Tale of the Teddy

And what’s the story with the teddy bear? Marie says the teddy bear was a gift from a Lawndale Manor resident. At one point the bear was not on display; Marie jokes that he was hibernating for the winter.

PPH resident Marie with her plants…and bear!

Proceeds from plant sales go to PPH’s Benevolent Care fund, which gives residents peace of mind, knowing that if they should outlive their financial resources through no fault of their own, they can remain in their home and continue receiving the care they require.

All of those involved with maintaining the greenhouse note the enjoyment that it brings and the camaraderie that comes from working together in the earth. The greenhouse is just one of the many places on the PPH campus where residents can keep busy and find purpose.

Here’s to welcoming the new growth of spring!