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For Mary Ellen, nature has always been the center of her world.

A certified Master Gardener and resident at Arbor Terrace Naperville, Mary Ellen has had a passion for nature and gardening since childhood. Currently, she faithfully waters plants in the Bridges neighborhood daily and also helps in the courtyard garden during gardening season. It’s something she has done for years now, and her role is only poised to grow.

Growing up, Mary Ellen, 79, was always around plants. Her parents and grandparents had gardens, and she helped tend to them, and her favorite thing to plant was flowers.

“I love to see things grow,” she said.

Originally from Michigan, Mary Ellen was an elementary school teacher for 30 years and often incorporated nature into her lessons, such as taking students on nature field trips and even planting trees with them at the school. She said her students would come back years later to see how the trees grew.

In addition to teaching about nature, Mary Ellen also served on the board of the Conservation District and previously worked on grant writing to fund nature projects. Along with gardening, she loves bird watching, and she makes sure the birds that live near the community have food every day. She loves to sit in the garden, watch the birds, and look at the flowers she’s cared for.

Soon, the community will start a garden club and expand their gardens immensely, which Mary Ellen will help lead. It will include raised planter boxes, herbs, and vegetables, as well as Mary Ellen’s favorite -- flowers.

“I’m amazed with how we’ve been able to count on Mary Ellen to tend to all of the indoor plants daily and be an active participant in beautifying our courtyard garden,” said Heather Pinheiro, engagement director. “Gardening is such a great outlet for her and other residents and allows them to be part of creating something beautiful.”

Safe & Comfortable Guide

Ellena Balkcom

About the Author: Ellena Balkcom

Ellena is a freelance writer, blogger and marketing copywriter based in Atlanta, GA, who covers health and wellness, business leadership and customer experience.

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