Nonprofit plants garden for Roslindale breast cancer survivor

ROSLINDALE
Two years ago, Roslindale’s Maria Barletta moved into her 8 Denton Terrace home with her son and husband. What should have been an exciting move from a Jamaica Plain condo into a house was dampened by a breast cancer diagnosis. Fast-forward two years, and a post-treatment Barletta is enjoying the beauty of a brand new garden thanks to the hard work of generous donors and Dedham-based nonprofit Hope in Bloom.

In 2005, Roberta Dehman Hershon founded Hope in Bloom after lifelong friend and fellow gardener, Beverly Eisenberg, died of breast cancer.
“She’s probably watching us and feeling embarrassed that I’m doing all this in her name, but a little bit of her lives on in every garden we plant,” Hershon said. “She felt and looked so much better when she had a new bouquet.”

Volunteers for the Dedham-based organization plant flower or vegetable gardens free of charge throughout Massachusetts at the homes of those undergoing treatment for breast cancer. According to Hershon, healing gardens have proven to be therapeutic sanctuaries that offer both comfort and hope to meet the emotional and psychological needs of patients and their families.

“Many of our recipients are now in remission and attribute their good fortune in part to their gardens,” said Hershon. “Others report their gardens help reduce stress and anxiety, which strengthens their resolve to face an often-grueling treatment regimen.”

During treatment, Barletta’s husband brought home a flyer about Hope in Bloom, but at the time the organization didn’t have the funding to fulfill her request. But now, thanks to the support of Chestnut Hill Realty in Chestnut Hill, Cavicchio Greenhouses in Sudbury, and Van Berkum Nursery in Deerfield, New Hampshire, the garden became a reality last weekend.

On Friday and Saturday, a crew of volunteers from Chestnut Hill Realty arrived at Barletta’s home to excavate the existing front garden and install a new, Italian-style garden to remind her of her native country. Prior to the install, there was significant prep work to plan the garden based on sun and shade, drainage and Barletta’s preferences for color and fragrance. The perennial garden now includes symmetrical boxwood hedging, a bluestone maintenance path and three planters, sky pencil hollies and flowers including hydrangeas, Russian sage, echinacea, Shasta daisies and irises, perfect for making bouquets.

“Gardening is a way to relieve that stress and anxiety in your life,” said Tim Dolan, Chestnut Hill Realty horticulture director. “You can nurture the plants as they’re growing and it’s just a very positive experience.”

While Barletta loves to garden, when they moved into the home two years ago, the front garden was very overgrown. The scope of the project coupled with the cancer diagnosis meant that she wasn’t able to create the welcoming space she wanted to in the front yard.

“It was just too wild and then I learned about my cancer,” said Barletta, who completed her treatment last fall. “I always like to be outside and this is just a gift … I feel like I’ve come full circle.”

And even for those who don’t love to be out in the dirt, Hope in Bloom creates lower maintenance gardens for some, or even container gardens that can be housed indoors for those without a yard.

“The garden is kind of a rebirth for people,” Hershon said. “When you’re sick and all you see is hospitals, a garden is a chance to involve some color in your life. … It puts you in a better frame of mind to be receptive to treatment.”

This is the fourth Hope in Bloom garden that Chestnut Hill Realty has been involved in, the second in Roslindale, and the 126th garden for the nonprofit organization. For additional information on Hope in Bloom or to learn about volunteering, visit: http://www.hopeinbloom.org/.

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Story appeared in the Roslindale Transcript on 6-18-15 by Victoria Groves. View the original article here.