Kansas Master Gardener Retires at 90 with Audio-Reader

Audio-Reader Staff and Volunteers Honor Frank Male Sr. for His 15 Years of Service

The Lawrence Times is providing local organizations and organizers with a platform to express their views and share updates with other like-minded individuals. This particular post has been contributed by Audio-Reader staff, volunteers, and supporters.

A retirement celebration was held on Tuesday morning for Frank Male Sr., 90, in recognition of his exceptional service as the lead volunteer for the Sensory Garden at Audio-Reader. After dedicating almost 15 years as the master gardener of this unique and immersive space, Male’s expertise and dedication have transformed it into the much-loved destination that it is today.

Male’s Contributions to the Sensory Garden

During the intimate gathering, Audio-Reader staff and volunteers shared cherished memories of working alongside Male in the garden, emphasizing the impact of his work in maintaining a garden designed as an immersive sensory experience for all visitors, regardless of age or ability.

Male’s leadership included working with garden volunteers, conducting tours, preparing for events, and selecting, planting, and maintaining all the flowers, plants, herbs, and elements that enhance the sensorial experience. His contributions as a volunteer gardener were recognized with memorial bricks to be placed in the garden, framed photos of the Sensory Garden, a wood-carved statue donated by his son, Frank Male Jr., and a poem written by fellow garden volunteer, Craig Sweets.

The Unique Concept of a Sensory Garden

A sensory garden is a unique concept aimed at providing an outdoor environment that stimulates a variety of senses, making the garden particularly accessible to individuals with visual impairments and other disabilities. The plantings include those that are very fragrant or have interesting textures, and plants are labeled with special markers that identify the plant in Braille and in print.

When visitors stroll through the Audio-Reader Sensory Garden, they are encouraged to explore the garden with their fingers, nose, and ears, to touch, feel, smell, and listen. The garden is a hands-on experience, and visitors are encouraged to use several of their senses to enjoy all the delights it has to offer.

Children, adults, and seniors, both sighted and sight-impaired, revel in the opportunity to experience this unique garden. Guests can activate the fragrance of a plant by gently rubbing its leaf between their fingers. This also allows them to experience the unique texture of each plant. Wind chimes, a bubbling rock fountain, songbirds, the chiming of the nearby Campanile, and even the sound of the KU marching band wafting from the nearby football stadium provide wonderful sounds to enjoy. A moment on one of the garden benches allows visitors to appreciate the distinctive sounds of the garden fully.


Frank Male Sr.’s dedication, expertise, and commitment have grown the beautiful green space of the Sensory Garden into the much-loved destination that it is today. His contributions and those of the Audio-Reader staff, volunteers, donors, and patrons have created a unique and inspiring space accessible to all visitors.

Thank you, Frank, for your years of dedicated service to Audio-Reader and the Sensory Garden!

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