FIVE green-fingered care home residents are enjoying the fruits of their labour by growing their own vegetables in a specially designed community garden.
Lettuce, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs are among the plants being carefully nurtured for use in the kitchen at Pendine Park’s Bodlondeb care home in Wrexham.
The horticultural buffs are looking forward to sharing them with fellow residents.
The amateur gardeners are also proving to be blooming good at growing shrub plants and colourful flowers, which they cultivate in raised beds specially built for them by members of the gardens and maintenance team of Pendine Park.
Bodlondeb manager Ann Chapman said maintenance manager Lee Williams and his colleague Dave Williams went “above and beyond” to create the raised wooden beds specially for keen gardeners to use and enjoy.
She said: “They generously made them in their own time, including at weekends and the quality is superb. They are a sturdy hardwood suitable for surviving Welsh winters.
“We have had them for some time now and there’s no question that these raised beds have proved a real boon for our gardening enthusiasts, enabling them to more easily access plants and cultivate crops.
“We have a number of green-fingered residents and we all get together about once a week, whenever the weather is suitable.
“Any resident who wants to join in can come along and get involved in our little gardening club. But we do have some regulars – our really dedicated gang of five – who have put an enormous amount of effort into growing and tending plants from seed this year. They each have also taken on a few tasks which they religiously stick to.”
Barry Bellis, 77, keeps the area clean and tidy. He can often be spotted in the communal courtyard with a sweeping brush clearing the pavements of gardening debris.
Kenneth Jones, 73, enjoys making sure everything is well watered, and Terence Richards, 75, is the lettuce expert. He is hoping for a bumper crop of salads this autumn if the record-breaking hot weather does not hinder growth.
Fortunately, he said the lettuces are in an area which is fairly shaded at the height of the sun so they should not suffer too much.
Also among the team are Allan Coop, 76, and Derek Hellyn, 61, who both recently took on the task of mowing the surrounding lawns.
Allan is a fan of all varieties of flowers and will often pick some to gift to Ann whenever he has been exploring the well-kept Bodlondeb gardens. These include different shaped herbaceous beds and borders well stocked with thriving perennials.
He believes that home-grown flowers are one of the best gifts anyone can give or receive.
Ann revealed: “Allan often brings me little bouquets of flowers which he has picked. They are always beautiful and make me smile. But our gardening team must wonder where on earth the lovely blooms have gone!”
Ann believes it is important to offer residents the chance to continue with fulfilling hobbies like gardening which they may have enjoyed before coming to live at Bodlondeb. She said it is part of creating as happy a home environment as possible.
She said: “We make it a priority to understand each of our residents’ backgrounds and get to know what sort of pastimes they enjoyed before coming to Bodlondeb. Wherever possible we will try to fit those pastimes into their lives here.”
Bodlondeb is situated in a tranquil setting with inner courtyards and floral patios and surrounded by 11 acres of gardens and countryside. It is a purpose built facility caring for residents with a range of dementia and mental health needs, and functional disorders.
Activities coordinator Anna Malabad agreed that the gardening sessions offered an important boost to the general wellbeing of residents and were a place where they could relax and simply be themselves.
She said: “They take a real interest in the vegetable and flower beds and are proud of what they grow.”
Terence Richards, originally from Treuddyn, said he enjoyed growing vegetables when he lived at home with his late wife, Jessica.
He said: “Gardening has always given me great pleasure, it’s consistently been a favourite hobby.”
Barry Bellis said he once created a ‘little allotment’ area at home in his garden when younger and it was nice to be able to do something similar at Bodlondeb.
He said: “It’s also good to enjoy a tea-break sitting out among the plants we have grown.”
Kenneth Jones relishes the opportunity to be active outdoors after many years of factory work, first in the textile industry at Holywell and then at a paper products company in Queensferry.
He said: “I enjoy spending some time in the fresh air with my own thoughts while picking up a watering can and watering a few plants.”