New book helps seniors, disabled to garden

April 14, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Seniors, people who are disabled or those who just suffer from occasional achy backs shouldn't be denied the pleasures of gardening.

That's the basis of a new book, "Accessible Gardening," by Waynesboro author Joann Woy.

"If you really love it and want to keep on, you can find ways," Woy said, whose recently published 200-page paperback book is full of gardening and landscaping tips and techniques to help anyone overcome obstacles that may get in the way of enjoying their horticultural pursuits.

An avid gardener, though she despises mowing the lawn, Woy comes from a long line of family members who've kept gardens.


It was her 80-year-old mother who inspired her to write the book two years ago after cataract surgery prevented her from tending her vegetable and flower gardens. Under doctor's orders, Woy's mother wasn't allowed to bend over, lift things or carry heavy items after the eye operation, which rendered her practically useless in the garden, or so she thought.

"The idea struck me, imagine if her condition was something not temporary?" Woy said.

Through months of research, contacting organizations like the Arthritis Foundation, National Federation of the Blind, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, among scores of other sources, Woy discovered that people with even the most debilitating handicaps have found some innovative ways to keep on gardening.

"To some people, the thought of not being able to get out there and garden is horrific," Woy said.

Even Woy, who just turned 40, applies some of her own advice when she works on her sprawling yard that was once an apple orchard.

Suffering from bad knees, Woy said she wouldn't garden without her "bench on wheels." She also equips herself with a strong set of garden tools that have good grips that fit her hands.

Instead of wrapping up a hose after using it each time, Woy runs it through an underground pipe to the watering destination where it stays through the growing season. This tip is particularly useful for wheelchair-bound gardeners, Woy said.

Raising flower beds, bringing things in closer to home, using mulch, and choosing easy-care plants are all gardening techniques Woy suggests in her book.

There are also recommendations for designing new and modifying existing yards and gardens for easy maintenance, advice on selecting the right tools, and specifications that make getting around the garden easier.

"A lot of times you can adapt what you already have to make it easier," Woy said, whether it is growing herbs on a windowsill or cultivating an acre for vegetables.

"Gardening doesn't need to be an aggressive, high impact thing to do," she said. "You don't have to push yourself to the limits."

Copies of the book are available from Stackpole Books, 5067 Ritter Road, Mechanicsburg, Pa. 17055.

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