Laura gardens – According to the Law

Laura gardens – According to the Law – Column

Laura Cooper

It’s spring! (Who wants to hear about legal problems?) In celebration of the season, I have decided to write about one of my personal passions: gardening. I take great pride in my garden, which is unique in several respects.

First, it is a very URBAN garden, located inside a glassed-in balcony on the 21st floor of the tallest building in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. The view is spectacular; I can see all the way from Bethesda, Maryland to Arlington Cemetery, and right smack in the middle of my view is the National Cathedral. My garden is designed to highlight this great view. The cathedral is framed with plants, while the closer buildings are somewhat obscured by carefully arranged plants and growing vines.

Second, my glassed-in balcony is not really a greenhouse. Instead of having independent control of temperature, humidity, and sunlight, I have had to determine what “mini-climate” exists in each part of the balcony, in order to determine optimum plant choice. I achieve seasonal variation by moving certain of the plants through the different “mini-climates” throughout the course of the year.

With appropriate plant choices, I have been able to establish constant flower blooms from September through May. I derive much pleasure from being able to fool Mother Nature into providing me with flowers when most other folks are looking at barren trees. My greenery and flowers provide a dramatic contrast to the stark Washington winter view!

Finally — and perhaps most importantly — my garden is an able garden. It was designed not only for the “mini-climates” and to frame the view, but also with my MS in mind. I garden mostly in Rubbermaid self-watering containers and large clay pots; all of them sit on furniture dollies with large casters, so they may easily be moved around. The elevation achieved by the combination of pots and casters is appropriate for my seated height. I have adapted an indoor faucet so I do not have to tote water back and forth. And, I have chosen plants that work well together in the same pots, taking into account maximum blossoms, minimum care, and ability to thrive in containers in the available “mini-climates”.

Because every gardening situation is different, I would like to recommend a thorough treatment of the subject: Accessible Gardening for People with Physical Disabilities by Janeen R. Adil, published by Woodbine House, 1994, 300 pages, paperback, $16.95.

This book contains a wealth of information for both new and experienced physically disabled gardeners. It includes instructions for establishing ground-level, raised-bed, planter box, container, or vertical gardens. It has a thorough review of plant choices based on disability-related considerations, a special chapter on gardening for children, and advice on pests and diseases. (My Rubbermaid containers were suggested on page 46.) I had never seen a gardening book that discussed toe space and reach range until I found this book!

Laura Cooper is a disability rights lawyer and a key Society volunteer. Her column usually provides legal and financial guidance.

COPYRIGHT 1997 National Multiple Sclerosis Society

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group