In addition to being a senior-friendly form of exercise, gardening provides many benefits for aging adults. It can increase levels of Vitamin D, decrease levels of stress and depression, and even lower the risk of dementia. However, for residents at the Eddy Senior Living Communities, it seems to go beyond the obvious physical and mental benefits. More than the fresh produce, clean air and sunlight, gardening offers seniors a way to connect with the greater community and reconnect with their past.
Poster Child for Gardening
More years ago than she can remember, Alice decided to try her hand at gardening, and she quickly realized she had a green thumb. “I like planting a variety of things,” says Alice, who grows everything from flowers to vegetables in her garden at Eddy Hawthorne Ridge Senior Living Community in East Greenbush NY. “But one of my favorite things is pumpkins.”
“I’ve also had success growing decorative gourds,” adds Alice. “After drying them out, I turn them into birdhouses.”
This year, however, Alice is focusing on a variety of herbs and radishes. And she’s the first to admit she isn’t as particular as some gardeners. “I don’t mind a few weeds in my garden,” laughs Alice. “I just love working in the dirt with the earth and things that grow!”
Although her approach to gardening isn’t exactly traditional, the staff and residents at Eddy Hawthorne Ridge can’t help but remark that she truly is the poster child for gardening. Donning a sun hat, overalls and a sunny disposition, Alice always looks at home among the plants and weeds.
A Life Rooted in Gardening
For Anne, a resident at Beechwood Senior Living Community in Troy NY, gardening was a gift from both of her parents. “My Mother was a terrific landscape gardener, and she kept lovely gardens at our home in the Schenectady GE Plot and, later, at our home in Schenectady’s Stockade District,” recalls Anne. “My dad, on the other hand, focused on veggie gardens and grew tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, garlic, strawberries, and on and on.”
While attending graduate school in the mid-1970s, Anne and her husband Jonathan lived very close to Longwood Gardens in southeast Pennsylvania. “Jonathan and I loved spending time there,” says Anne, who returned to the Gardens with Jonathan just this past summer to spend a couple of days. “And so, when we bought our home in Troy in 1981, I defaulted to landscape gardening – inherited from a lifetime of skills my mother passed on to me and from a love of things I’d seen at Longwood Gardens,” explains Anne.
When Anne’s Dad moved in with her and Jonathan in 1998, the focus once again changed to vegetable gardening. Jonathan built a large raised bed for his father-in-law to grow his tomatoes, garlic and strawberries.
“That garden gave him much pleasure,” says Anne. “He also loved to take pictures of flowers.” In fact, over the last 12 years of his life, Anne’s Dad took thousands of photos of flowers at Union College Jackson’s Garden, the Central Park Rose Garden in Schenectady, around their property in Troy, and of their neighbors’ gardens.
Continuing her love for gardening, Anne began working for the Eddy Village Green in 2012, where she was tasked with starting a small community garden on the EVG campus in conjunction with Capital Roots. The plot was for staff and residents to share, but also for the greater Cohoes community. “We felt it important to be an active part of local Cohoes, to invite people in to make use of our space for gardening, to welcome multi-generational activity, and to share a love for the summer’s bounty,” says Anne.
Today, Anne continues to enjoy active gardening at her Beechwood home, and, after moving into the senior living community in 2015, Jonathan started volunteering with Capital Roots, as well. For these two, it seems, gardening and community will always go hand-in-hand. “Volunteer! You can make a difference,” offers Anne in her final remarks.
Senior Living Communities with Gardens
It’s important for seniors to stay active and continue enjoying their hobbies, even after moving into a retirement community, which is why all of the Eddy Senior Living communities offer some form of gardening for our residents. For more information about our independent senior living communities in Troy, Slingerlands, East Greenbush, Niskayuna and Queensbury NY, contact us or call (877) 748-3339.