Green-fingered residents at one of Sutton Housing Partnership’s (SHP) Independent Living Schemes have worked together to transform their communal garden into a beautiful oasis of calm complete with plants and vegetables.
Jackie Tresadern, Maggie Curran and Nadine Oliver live at Clarence House, an Independent Living scheme in Wallington, which is managed by SHP.
During last year’s lockdown, the residents decided to keep themselves busy by growing their own flowers and vegetables in the Clarence House garden.
Jackie said: “We’re all keen gardeners and during the lockdown being able to work in the garden here was great for our mental health - it’s been a real godsend. When you’re gardening you don’t think about other things, you just lose yourself in it.
“During the lockdown when there were restrictions on visitors and social distancing, it was nice to have a chat with other residents over the bushes while we worked outside. It was also great to be out in the fresh air, gardening is very therapeutic and is a great way to keep your brain active”.
Together the residents planted roses, hollyhocks and sunflowers and grew pumpkins, courgettes, runner beans, tomatoes, sweet peas and carrots. In addition, the Independent Living Service also distributed free sunflower seeds which were donated from the Sutton New Town Community Festival.
“We had another five residents join in and plant black sunflowers and one did some work on the squares at the front of the building. One elderly resident that lives here always brings out plants and gets involved - he used to have an allotment before he came here. Everyone does a little bit.
“We buy our seeds from local supermarkets or the gardening centre in Wallington and we tend to the garden every week, watering, feeding and deadheading flowers. When the vegetables are ready, we leave them in a bowl in the community room for other residents to help themselves” said Jackie.
Unsurprisingly, the residents have also had positive feedback from other residents and visitors to Clarence House. “It’s nice when other residents come and sit outside and comment on how nice the garden looks. When my son-in-law came here recently he also said “isn’t it pretty round here?” so it's great that our work is noticeable to others."
"We have loads of ideas of what we want to plant next,” added Jackie, “and who knows, we might even enter the Sutton in Bloom competition next year if the weather’s nice!”.
Catherine Charlton, Operations Director, at Sutton Housing Partnership, said: “We know that lockdown was really difficult for some of our Independent Living residents so it's fantastic to see the results of the residents’ hard work and dedication at Clarence House.
"The garden and external areas look fantastic and will really benefit the health and wellbeing of so many other residents at the scheme.”