Ms. AbercrombieBy Kirk Hines, HTR- Horticultural Therapist, A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance,” according to Lady Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  At A.G. Rhodes of Atlanta, it’s also for rosemary chicken.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) was recently the focus of horticultural therapy with residents at A.G. Rhodes of Atlanta. Its long history of use as a culinary herb was discussed. Many in the group were surprised to hear about rosemary’s association with improving memory, a symbol of remembrance and the evergreen herb’s use as a love charm. During the session, organic cultivation of rosemary was demonstrated as I worked with each resident to propagate new plants from stem cuttings.

Fulfilling its destiny as an aromatic herb, the rosemary growing in the horticultural therapy gardens was quickly put to use. A portion of the organically grown herb was used in cooperation with Nutrition Services.  Rosemary stems were harvested and provided flavor for a recent dinner entrée, Rosemary Chicken, which was served to residents and staff.

It’s a small start to what I hope will become an important collaboration of services at A.G. Rhodes. Providing fresh herbs and veggies grown in our horticultural therapy gardens is a positive and meaningful experience for our residents.

Future plans include the cultivation and use of heirloom tomato varieties, as well as many fragrant herbs. Residents have already sown seeds, transplanted, and are now growing six varieties of tomatoes, three types of peppers, five types of basil and many others to be planted in the horticultural therapy gardens at all three A.G. Rhodes facilities.

(Photo: Ms. Abercrombie, a resident at A.G. Rhodes of Atlanta, sits next to a rosemary shrub)