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Flowers therapeutic for Peabody resident

Staff writer

There are only a few inches of ground in the courtyard at Legacy Park that don’t feature colorful flowers.

The garden includes coreopsis, geraniums, moss rose, morning glories, marigolds, zenias, and rose bushes, all planted by Esther Stuckey.

“When we moved into that apartment, we asked them if we could plant some flowers,” Stuckey said. “Everything was such a mess. The rose bush needed trimming so bad and there was so much trash underneath.”

Esther Stuckey and her husband, David, started working on the garden soon after they moved to Legacy Park June 13, 2009. They moved into the nursing home because Esther had just had shoulder surgery and David’s health was declining.

Planting flowers and maintaining a large garden was an activity the Stuckeys always enjoyed. They maintained an expansive flower garden at their home in Peabody and eventually their horticultural expertise spread to planters downtown and in Peabody park.

Gardening was something they almost needed to do; Esther said that although David would come home tired from his job at Baker’s Carpet, where he worked for 21 years, he would always spend time feeding, watering, and trimming their garden.

“That was his therapy,” Esther said.

At Legacy Park, David hadn’t lost any of his exuberance for gardening, but he had lost the physical ability to work in the garden. He continued to advise Esther while she did the planting.

“We always worked together,” Esther said.

David’s health declined dramatically in May. For the following month and a half, he was confined to his bed. He died June 29.

Esther’s lifelong partner was gone.

They started dating in high school when David sat down in the café in Burns where Esther was working and asked if she wanted to go home with him. David told Esther later he had seen her and told himself, “That was my girl.”

Esther and David had much in common. They were both middle children in families with eight other siblings. They also were both Christians.

After David’s death, instead of isolating herself in grief, Esther kept busy putting together puzzles, playing games, and gardening. Flowers continue to be one of her passions.

“The Bible talks about flowers. I’m a Christian and everything I do doesn’t always work but God made this world and he loves flowers,” Esther said.

The fruits of Esther’s labor are on display for all residents at Legacy Park. One of the reasons the Stuckeys started planting the garden was because the cafeteria overlooks the courtyard. Residents also walk the grounds to enjoy the flowers.

“This summer, it’s been so hot. Only one or two women came down,” Esther said of compliments she receives about the flowers. “But they always tell me that they’re so beautiful.”

Last modified Aug. 25, 2010

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