Garden club set to bloom

A new club gets growing at a care facility in Cloverdale, opening up a world of possibilities.

It was a scene any gardener might envy: a shaded patio deck with an expansive view, several sturdy tables to use as potting stations, a steady supply of soil, flats of flowers ready for planting, and, best of all, a crew of willing volunteers eager to get started.

On a recent Monday, residents and staff at a local complex care facility launched a new gardening club by tackling what’s probably the biggest task of the season – potting up fresh planters.

The Residence at Clayton Heights is home for about 130 people, seniors requiring complex care and people with brain injuries.

“We just thought it would be a very therapeutic thing for the residents to do,” says recreation coordinator Kayla Allan, who helped organize the new program.

“Planting is just a beautiful thing to do,” she said. “It just makes you more happy.”

Her colleague, Karissa Tedford, agrees, explaining that gardening is a creative process that has physical and mental benefits – from fostering hand-eye coordination to inspiring memories, allowing people to reminisce and giving them a sense of accomplishment.

For those who can’t express themselves verbally, gardening is another way to interact.

“It’s also a chance for family members to come out,” Tedford said.

The club – staff and 22 residents ready to bloom – will meet weekly to water the plants, talk about gardening by sharing tips and stories, and to tend the plants – opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine.

Volunteer Michael Macdonald seemed pleased with the day’s accomplishments. A former resident who suffered an acquired brain injury, he spent three months at The Residence last fall, and has been volunteering two or three times a week.

“I figured it’s the least I can do,” he said.

Volunteers from the community are always welcome.

Tyler Warnock, a Grade 11 student at Clayton Heights Secondary, started volunteering because he thought it would be an enriching experience. He’s hoping to enter medicine.

“It’s been good,” he said, explaining he’s learned patience and better communication skills.

“I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”

The facility, located at 18788 71 Avenue, opened in 2012. It’s organized according to neighbourhoods to promote a home environment.

Three wings are for complex care for seniors and a fourth is for young adults with acquired brain injuries.