Partying with the Friends House Gardeners



GardenRant has a core of engaged readers who comment on our posts (and we thank you!) but the other 2,000 or so daily readers are unknown to us. So it was a nice surprise to be contacted out of the blue by Rant reader Lucille Ridlon, inviting me to a garden party to be thrown by the Friends House Retirement Community. I was able to go, and took this shot of Lucille on the left, with Master Gardeners Julie Fortin and Joe Schechter.


The 2-acre space contains plots communally cared for with produce donated to all, plus individual plots marked with each gardener’s name. (Lucille’s plot shown above.)

There’s also a greenhouse, which Lucille manages with her crew of helpers. Plant sales are held twice a year with proceeds going amenities for Friends House residents. Campers from the nearby Friends Camp help out weekly.

Lucille told me the goal of the whole operation is to get people outside in nature. Seems to be doing that and a whole lot more.

Space for socializing.
Cutting garden and greenhouse.


Tomato tasting (L) and Purslane salad (R).

This is what Master Gardeners are FOR

A gripe I’ve heard from countless Master Gardeners is that they’re soooo often asked do unpaid grunt labor, which is NOT what the Master Gardener training is about. Master Gardeners are trained to be trainers, going out into the community to teach gardening.

Here, Montgomery County Master Gardeners are doing what they’re supposed to do – fun things like creating demonstrations gardens (filled with native plants in one case and plants mentioned by Shakespeare in another), and beekeeping.  Two of the 12-15 Master Gardeners here are also residents.

Demonstration gardens.
Demonstration gardens.


Composting and beekeeping, too.

So, no rant from me today (okay, except for that quickie about the misuse of Master Gardeners). No really, today I’m just reporting on this wonderful garden, and hoping readers will tell me that retirement-community gardens like this one are everywhere.


  1. Oh My! As a Master Gardener currently working with a local church to establish a community garden I can only look at these pictures and imagine the possibilities. What a great model! And, boy, do we have our work cut out for us.

  2. I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest to the Friends Garden Party. Hats off to Lucille Ridlon, the MG’s from Mont. Co., and to the Garden Committee plus the numerous volunteers who helped create this Eden for Friends Retirement Community.. Not only two acres of lovely flowers and veggies, but so many happy, energized retirees working in community in the bright outdoors performing their labor of love, and loving each moment! This truly is the epitome of what Master Gardeners is all about!

  3. Montgomery County Master Gardeners–about 375-members strong–has a program called Therapeutic Horticulture that brings gardening–inside and out–to about 15 assisted living and nursing facilities in the county. Residents get to create seasonal arrangements, plant indoor pots, and some salad tables or in-ground garden plots. See this front-page article from our membership newsletter about the benefits or gardening to seniors for more information.

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