Creating an indoor winter wonderland at Lee Burneson Middle School

The students, faculty, parents and visitors to Lee Burneson Middle School on Dover Center Road know that something exciting is going on in the vivarium. The glass-enclosed room is being transformed into a winter wonderland by Don Bowman. 

Don is a familiar sight around the school because he goes there at least once a week to water and care for the plants in the vivarium. Don started planting flowers around the three trees on Dover Center Road in front of the Red Brick School in 2010. It was a problem getting water to the plants, so he asked if he could get water from the vivarium at Lee Burneson and in exchange, he would water the plants in the vivarium. Of course the school said yes, and Don has been at it since.

All of the plants were in the vivarium when Don came on board, except for several poinsettias that he contributed.  There is a wonderful variety of plants including ferns, ivy, peace lilies, snake plants, bromeliads, schefflera, spider plants, and a surprising number of orchids.

Don started decorating the vivarium this year with a fall festival theme in October, and is in the process now of decorating for winter and the holidays. Don loves plants and loves caring for living things. He lives in an apartment and does not have space for a garden, so once a week the vivarium becomes his garden sanctuary.

Don broke ground in 2009 by joining the Westlake Garden Club which had been, up to that time, an all female club. He joined the club because of his interest in gardening and to learn more about plants.  He now has company, with three additional male members in the garden club. 

Don attended the Red Brick School, Dover Elementary School, and Dover/Westlake High School, graduating in 1960. He has a fondness for the schools and the area, and this is his way of giving back to the community that he loves.

He believes that seniors have so much to offer and wishes more seniors would get involved in doing things that contribute to the community. Don has traveled extensively, mainly to colder climates, including Alaska, Siberia, and the Arctic Circle. Getting to Antarctica is definitely on his bucket list.

So coming to the vivarium once a week, especially in winter, is like a mini vacation for Don, where he can get lost in doing what he enjoys most.  Don believes in volunteering at any age and is now busy working with the Marines on the Toys for Tots project. He is at the warehouse almost every day helping sort toys. 

Don feels very fortunate to be able to do things that he truly enjoys. Caring for the plants and decorating the vivarium to celebrate the seasons is his way of helping to make our community a better place to live. 

Thanks, Don, for a job well done. 

Read More on Community Service
Volume 3, Issue 25, Posted 2:51 PM, 12.13.2011