09 April 2018

After Hurricane Harvey’s historic floods wreaked havoc on the secret garden at Brookdale Clear Lake last year, resident Gail Karasick decided to make hay. More precisely, she saw the damage as an opportunity to turn part of the space into a vegetable garden. Karasick, who created the whimsical hideaway, hopes to inspire others to grow edibles even if they don’t have an area for gardening. 

Karasick, a lifelong gardener, spearheaded converting an area of the Brookdale Clear Lake grounds into a flower-filled garden about a year and a half ago. With the help of other residents and community associates, she fashioned it into a creative space to relax and enjoy nature. As the crowning touch, a group of local fine arts students painted a custom mural on one side.

However, Hurricane Harvey’s waters washed away the topsoil in late summer, 2017, leaving only sand. This spring, Karasick decided to replace a number of the flowers with vegetables, which have a shallower root system. She mapped out a 20’ x 15’ space to raise tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, squash, and pumpkins. Then she began the labor of planting by digging holes, filling them with potting soil, adding compost and laying mulch.  She is also growing green beans, radishes, herbs and tomatoes in containers.

“I’d like to show that even if you don’t have access to a garden, you can still grow plants on a patio or balcony that way,” Karasick said. She noted the garden will continue to contain flowers, including for the first time miniature sunflowers.

As the vegetables ripen, they will be available to Brookdale Clear Lake’s residents, who have contributed funds and materials to the effort. “I couldn’t have done this without their help,” she said.

While work in the garden is still underway, results have already started to blossom. “So far, we have four tomatoes and two peppers,” Karasick said. “And the radishes are looking awesome.”

Leading up to Earth Day on April 20, Brookdale communities nationwide will be participating in the organization’s “Embrace Nature!” initiative, planting flowers, trees and indoor greenery to support the environment and highlight the importance of nature for spiritual wellbeing. 

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