Roy Bycroft in his Garden at Northhaven Retirement Village
This is a good option to brighten up your own apartment balcony, entranceway or patio. Excellent container options include dwarf fruit trees, salad greens and herbs, vegetables and flowers.
Growing plants in containers is relatively easy. It’s a great chance to show off your creative flair as you can create whatever you want whether it’s a single plant, a colourful centrepiece, or textured arrangement of pots. Container plants are much more dependent on you than plants in the ground but with a little care they’ll not only survive but thrive too.
Two and a half years ago Shirley, the Village Manager at Bupa Erin Park Retirement Village in Manurewa started to encourage residents to get involved in gardening. She invited a person from the local garden centre to come in for morning tea and talk about gardening and different ideas that might work. From there volunteers from a local community group had a working bee to tidy up the front gardens at the village.
Since then residents and the Village Manager have developed the communal veggie garden. Motivated by the annual Bupa Village Gardening Competition residents were inspired about what they could do to make this a place people want to come to. At the time, the only plant in the communal vegetable garden at the back of the village was a lonely silver beet.
The communal garden is designed to allow all village residents to get involved. The raised beds are hip-high so people who can't bend down can still participate. The garden is not just for digging, but supporting, admiring and sharing produce with others.
Shirley said, “the communal vegetable garden has really bought people together and it is something we are all very proud of. One resident in particular feels so happy, that each day she walks around and checks on the progress in the garden”.
The residents work together with the village manager to decide what to plant. Today their communal vegetable garden has so much colour and variety. They have passionfruit, blueberries, strawberries, sweet corn, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, rhubarb and courgettes to name a few.
Since they began the village has won several awards in the Bupa Annual Gardening Competition, including most improved front garden, best apartment balcony garden, and several awards with their communal vegetable garden. They are all very proud of their achievements and their next project is to develop a herb garden.
Retirement villages in New Zealand promote independent living. “Today’s generation of retirees are not content to sit back on the sidelines of society and want to remain active and enjoy their retirement fully.” (1). Staying involved in gardening is one way to do this.