|Susan Farmer’s home and garden in Jamaica Plain. (Courtesy photos)
years ago my sister, Susan, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She
underwent treatments that included lumpectomy, radiation. mastectomy,
and hormone therapy to prevent the estrogen-related cancer from
returning. After she exhausted all of those efforts, she underwent
chemotherapy. Her doctors were speaking to her in terms of “if” she
survived her treatment. Susan took a leave of absence from her job and
put her energy into healing, opening her communication with friends and
family, and decorating her home. It was amazing to see her go from
cycles of being sick and weak to shopping for the perfect piece. I
watched Susan keep going against all odds. The transformation of her
personal space was incredibly healing for her. Susan even admits that
changing her environment radically contributed to her ability to go on.
It gave her hope and something to look forward to each day.
Susan’s home was redecorated and her health seemed to rebound, she
learned that the cancer had returned. She underwent a radical but
effective surgery at Mass General to remove nearly a foot of bone from
several of her ribs in the hope that the metastatic cancer would be
removed. While recovering from that surgery, she learned of the Hope in
Bloom program through her connection with the Virginia Thurston Healing
Garden here in Harvard. She was the first recipient of a Hope in Bloom
garden this August.
Hope in Bloom is a program
started by Roberta Hershon and Beverly Eisenberg. Hershon and Eisenberg
were friends for nearly 50 years, and one of their favorite activities
was gardening. When Eisenberg learned she had breast cancer, the idea
for Hope in Bloom was born. Her garden gave her hope, beauty, and love.
When she could no longer maintain her garden, her friends gathered
together to do it for her. Her days were filled with the affection of
friends and abundant flowers from her garden. While she lost her battle
with breast cancer two years ago, Eisenberg lives on through her friend
Roberta’s tireless efforts in extending the beauty and peace of a
garden sanctuary to others.
sister has always loved gardening, too, so the Hope in Bloom program
has been a dream come true for Susan. Under Hershon’s direction, Kelley
Wingo of Kelley Wingo Designs of Needham created a new sitting area and
backyard that included a garden bench donated by Walpole Woodworkers.
Her front yard, designed by landscape architect Lynn Wagner of Weston
Nurseries, was filled with blue hydrangea bushes to enhance her
lilac-colored, turn-of-the-century home. Susan loves planting and
working in her garden amidst plants donated by family, friends, local
businesses, and the generosity of Weston Nurseries.
whole transformation of her landscape has been a very positive event,
not only for Susan but also for the landscapers, nurseries, and
landscape architects that participated, as well as the Hope in Bloom
program itself. The day of the garden installation, reporters and TV
crews were there filming the work. Fox 25 News aired a piece on the
building of the garden the day that it was put together, and the New
England Gardening Channel will air the garden makeover Sunday,
September 16 at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. The segment can also be viewed
online at www.nedreamhouse.com.
Susan loves her new
garden. She spends a lot of her time sitting on her garden bench
writing, reflecting, and praying. She told me that birds will actually
sit at her feet as she spends time in her garden. If wildlife can feel
the shift in energies, I believe that we humans can benefit too.
For more information on the Hope in Bloom project, including how to donate money or volunteer effort to the program, go to www.HopeinBloom.org or www.healinggarden.net.