At 80 my mum can still be found most days pottering in the garden, pruning her roses or doing some light weeding. Its her escape and a place she takes great comfort in being.
These days its a 2 woman job to keep it looking good, with a seasonal calendar of tasks to be completed, which we do together. I’m very good at taking instruction !
The garden can be a great place in which to engage those living with conditions such as memory loss, where families can join in shared activities, promoting inclusion and creating an environment of memory prompts. It is also a fantastic place to support physical and mental health all year round. Famous gardener Alan Titchmarsh is one advocate of the benefits of gardening and has worked with the Alzheimer’s society to encourage Garden centres become more accessible, for all.
Spring is one of my favourite seasons, after a long winter as bulbs start to bloom and the green tips of shrubs appear, its hard not to feel a sense of renewed optimism about the year ahead. Of course for all gardeners its one of the busiest times of year, deciding on what’s to be planted where, clearing away any remaining winter leaves and bringing on seedlings.
Top Tip #1 – Remember not to do too much all at once, as you will discover muscles you forgot you had!
Top Tip #2 – Add trellis to fences to give height to climbers for greater coverage and minimise bending or use hanging baskets to brighten up empty spaces.
Whilst Spring maybe be high in physical activity, I find there is something very satisfying about seeing the garden in full bloom over summer. There are still plenty of things to be done together as the summer progresses, in order to keep flowering plants growing well into the late summer to give continuous colour.
Top tip #3 – Create a diary, picture book or memory box with objects from the garden, to share or discuss throughout the Autumn and Winter months, when you can’t get outside as much – this can be a fun activity to do with younger family members. For those living with memory loss, keep a note of plants which stimulate positive feelings and conversation, ready for replanting in the spring.
Top tip #4 – Summer is a great time for taking photographs of the garden, ready to share to the Cognect Screen into the winter as a reminder of the achievements made!
I always consider autumn to be about planning and preparation for next year. Whether its moving shrubs, taking out unwanted plants, storing Dahlia tubers or simply giving the place a good tidy up, there is still lots to get out and do so that it will look good throughout the winter. It’s also a great time to make some changes to the layout based on how you used the garden during the year :
Top Tip #5 – if you have a vegetable patch sow green manure which is available from the garden centre. This will over winter and add nitrogen back into the soil ready for next years crop and is a great soil improver.
Top tip #6 – Autumn afternoon sun can still be warm enough to sit out in the fresh air, so move a bench to a sheltered corner to relax and take in the view whilst the sun is still out. My dad used to love reading his paper in the garden.
The winter months can be a challenge when it comes to getting out in the fresh air and garden. I look forward to those gloriously crisp sunny days when i have no excuses to not get outdoors. Whilst there is limited action in the garden itself, there is still plenty to get involved with such as:
Top tip #7 – If you have a particularly creative member of the family into crafts (like I do), then knitted hats, scarf and gloves make fantastic Christmas gifts and will help keep them busy whilst they can’t get out so much.
Top Tip #8 – Use the Cognect Screen to plan visits to local gardens, or sharing photos of the garden in full bloom is a great way enjoy the garden year round and prompt memories of the achievements which have been made.
The garden is a fantastic place to get some light exercise and fresh air for those in their golden years or living with health conditions.
Spring is a busy time and ideal for working together with a loved one who lives alone to prepare the garden for summer.
Summer is all about enjoying what you have created and growing fruit and veg to enjoy together at family BBQ’s or picnics.
Autumn brings a change of focus to planning and preparation whilst still offering a chance to enjoy the garden on warm days.
Winter doesn’t have to mean there is nothing to do outdoors, as tools and furniture can be repaired or on crisp days spend time clearing leaves from borders.
How do you spend you time in the garden? Please let us know in the comment box below, we would love to hear from you.
Written by: Nicky Macfarlane, Co-Founder of Cognect.com. Learn more about how Cognect is helping families to support their golden age parents to live independently in their own homes for longer.