Gardening has many benefits for seniors, but that comes as no surprise to Audrey and Claudia. Residents at the Eddy Senior Living Communities in Slingerlands and Queensbury NY, the two have been gardening their entire lives. In fact, they both chose to retire at Eddy Senior Living, at least in part, because the campuses offer some form of gardening for the residents.
Gardening is in Her Blood
Beverwyck senior living resident Audrey first started gardening as a little girl. Every summer, she would come up from New Jersey to live with her Aunt and Uncle and help them with their Victory Garden. They would grow everything, including flowers and vegetables, from seed.
As a young married woman raising kids and living on New Scotland Road in Slingerlands NY, Audrey again started her vegetable and flower garden from seeds, using grow lights in her basement. “In my mid-forties, I began taking courses to become a Master Gardener,” recalls Audrey. She was asked to join the Fort Orange Garden Club and resigned from her role as the Chairman of Red Cross Blood Mobile Volunteers. “I gave up blood for flowers,” she quips.
While with the Fort Orange Garden Club, Audrey started the cutting garden at the Pruyn House. And since many of the flower varieties were not available for purchase, the Garden Club grew their own from seed. They also took over the existing herb garden, and expanded to include a monarch way station, filled with milkweed and nectar plants.
“I also became very interested in working on dried flower arrangements through the Garden Club, and worked on several arrangements for the Schulyer mansion,” adds Audrey.
As a member of the Board of Trustees for the Albany Rural Cemetery, Audrey suggested that the Garden Club volunteer to identify all of the trees in the cemetery. They then developed a brochure, available at the entrance to the cemetery, which includes a map of each tree’s location, its name and any identifying leaves and fruits.
As for moving into Beverwyck, one of the stipulations was that Audrey live in a first floor apartment with walk out patio and a garden. “I was able to transplant many of the shade plants from my home on New Scotland Road in my garden here at Beverwyck, and I’ve joined the community’s garden group,” says Audrey.
Started by resident Judy Wing, and named, “The Beverwyck Bloomers” by resident Betty Sonneborn, the Beverwyck garden group maintains and expands gardens in the putting green courtyard. Audrey has also identified trees on Beverwyck’s campus, and she is often called upon to arrange flowers.
But perhaps the best part of gardening at Beverwyck for Audrey has been the social interaction. “I don’t live in an apartment, I live in a community,” insists Audrey. “I have met many new friends and we all take care of each other.”
A Spiritual Connection
Claudia J., a resident at The Glen at Hiland Meadows senior living community in Queensbury, NY also remembers gardening as a child. “I’ve gardened all of my life,” says the now 84 year-old Claudia. “I started helping my great-grandmother tend to the Victory Gardens during World War II.”
As Claudia recalls, all of the produce from the farms had to go to the service men, so the community would share whatever came out of the Victory Gardens, and any leftovers were canned at the end of the summer growing season.
“My favorite things to grow are vegetables and herbs,” says Claudia, who uses her garden bounty to prepare home-cooked meals for her friends and family. She’s still canning, too, giving much of it away as gifts.
When asked about the most unique plant she’s ever grown, Claudia emphatically replies, “Gourds!” And apparently, she was very successful. “They climbed on everything, including the garden fence and corn stalks,” recalls Claudia. While gourds aren’t edible, they can be dried and used to make decorative birdhouses, drums and Maracas.
Even still, the biggest appeal of gardening for Claudia is the stress relief. “When I’m in my garden, it’s time for me to talk to God and feel my spirituality,” explains Claudia. “My favorite saying is, ‘Life is a Garden … Dig in.’ ”
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.