Accessibility Gardening

Bill Holloway of Greenwood, South Carolina, learned the greatest of lessons--that hope can grow in a garden.
Rebecca Bull Reed

Even at first glance, you know this Eden belongs to a hands-on gardener. What may surprise you is the fact that this garden is planted and tended by someone who is paralyzed from his breastbone down. Bill Holloway calls his oasis an "accessibility garden where anyone can successfully grow something."

Family Love
As any seasoned gardener will tell you, sometimes plants don't flourish when they're too pampered. Bill's family must have known that the same is true with people. Depressed and on the verge of giving up, Bill returned home from the hospital after a devastating accident and announced that he was going to quit gardening. But his family knew this was the exact opposite of what he needed. Bill now credits his wife, Suzy; their four children; and his sister Barbara Smith with giving him the encouragement to keep going. 
 

In a Timely Manner
To keep the garden looking great, Bill stays on top of chores as they arise--sound advice for any gardener. In spring, it takes Bill just a half-day to work the soil in all nine beds, and the results pay off year-round.

As for watering, a combination overhead and spray head system gives him the best results. Bill also waters by hand occasionally. During the height of summer, he waters for 45 minutes to 1 hour every other day.

Room To Grow
Even amid the perils of disaster, a good gardener never gives up; he just looks for better solutions. Bill remembers lying in his hospital bed right after the accident, wondering what he was going to do with his life. A comment that an orderly made opened Bill's eyes to possibilities.

"The gentleman could tell I was doing some serious thinking, and he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a vascular surgeon and operated on people's veins. After a period of silence, the orderly said, 'You don't do that with your feet, do you?'"

Bill recently retired from his surgical post. Today, he gardens, spends time with his family, and shares his knowledge with those who want to learn more about accessibility gardening. Bill's family is proud of him and how he continues to grow. Barbara says, "He is one of my most admired people in the world."

This article is from the June 2005 issue of Southern Living.