With the Chelsea Flower Show in full bloom this week we have been wondering about gardening into old age and how to ensure it continues to be the joyful pastime that it is for so many older people. We’ve found lots of good advice and some useful websites to help you out – whatever type of garden your parents have – and however much or little help they might need.
- Build raised beds
Raised beds are much easier to weed and maintain as they require less bending; you could also consider other types of containers from pots to hanging baskets. Use mulches and membranes to cut down on weeding.
- Pick your plants carefully
Plant low maintenance crops. For vegetables, onions and shallots are very low maintenance. Other easy to grow veg are broad beans, carrots, spinach and chard. Buy plug plants if you want to skip the seed sowing stage. Herbs such as rosemary, sage, chives and thyme keep going all year round and require little maintenance. Perennials such as rhubarb, globe artichoke, camomile and gooseberry only require one planting and keep coming back year on year.
Consider a sensory garden which can be really inspirational; memories evoked by scent with sweet peas, pelargoniums and roses; the sense of touch from stachys and bergenia leaves, tree barks and grasses; stunning taste sensations with containers of verbena, strawberries and edible flowers, and listening to grasses or popping seedheads like love-in-a-mist – and all encouraging birdsong, butterflies and bees.
- Lawns and paths
Lawns don’t have to be mown every week! You may want to consider reducing the amount of lawn there is, and consider edging with wood or metal edging to cut down on hand trimming. However you may need to consider more hard landscaping and pathways. Make sure paths and surfaces are level and safe, with turning spaces and handrails if necessary.
Improve existing watering arrangements with a convenient water butt attached to a lightweight push-along mobile hose cart; or put in a watering system – which doesn’t need to cover the whole garden but just the most important plants. There are some very cost effective solutions.
Lightweight tools might be a consideration, along with long-handled tools such as forks and spades. And of course kneelers, long-handled secateurs etc., there are many ranges of excellent adapted gardening equipment available.
- Birdtables and feeders
A very lovely pastime to enjoy the different birds at bird table, particularly during the winter months. It’s also good exercise to have to replenish the bird food every now and again.
- Invite others to garden the garden
If space allows, you could ask someone to take some of the garden for their own gardening needs in exchange for managing your parents garden. They get a garden and your parents get a maintained garden.
So, while dreams of a Gold medal from Chelsea may perhaps be unlikely, there is no reason at all why with a little help and adaptation your parents can go on gardening well into their older years.
The Age-Proof Garden by Patty Cassidy.
Gardening for the disabled trust
If you’ve helped your parents adapt their garden according to their abilities, please let us know on the forum today.