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Woman has deep roots in garden club therapy

Olive Beutler doesn’t hear as well as she used to. She tripped over a clothes basket and broke her left hip almost two years ago, which forced her to move out of her Amherst home and into an apartment at Vinecroft Retirement Community in Clarence Center. She needs a walker to get around – and doesn’t like that very much. But at almost 102 years old, these obstacles don’t stop her from serving as a helper with the Smallwood Garden Club Garden Therapy Program the second Tuesday of every month at Beechwood Continuing Care in Getzville. There she was this month, helping 90-year-old Angie Genovese and others put together flower arrangements.

“At 97, she was still entering designs in competition and winning” at the Erie County Fair and regional garden club competitions, said her friend and fellow club member Lee Schreiner.

Beutler, who joined the garden club nearly 50 years ago, was chairwoman of the garden therapy program for more than half that time.

Q. What do you make of the garden club?

I love it. The girls are wonderful. I’d never get out if it wasn’t for them.

Q. What kinds of flowers do you like to arrange with?

I like pansies and violets, anything purple.

Q. How do you stay happy?

I try my best but I have my days. I’ve got a cat in my apartment, Pepper. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Q. Does the garden therapy program help?

Oh yes.

Q. What’s the secret of your longevity?

I believe in exercise and I love volunteer work. I never smoked. I like a martini every now and then. I’ve promised them over at the apartments when I’m able to walk without this walker, we’ll make Manhattans. I’ve always been a coffee drinker, strong coffee, four cups a day. Black. ... I’m not Italian but I like Italian food.

– Scott Scanlon

On the Web: Read more about the Smallwood Garden Club Garden Therapy Program at

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