Recent warm weather and plenty of rain have gardens bursting with life and for many older adults, tending plants in the yard is a labor of love they have enjoyed and shared for years, even decades. But what happens to a beloved garden when the gardener is reading for a move into a retirement or assisted living home?
Many younger home buyers are not looking for a high-maintenance yard filled with plants that must be regularly watered, fertilized, divided, dead-headed and pruned. Busy working adults and parents often want simple landscaping that requires minimal attention or have plans for an addition that will take up a fair portion of the property. But it can be crushing for elderly adults to leave their beloved garden knowing all their years of dedication and enjoyment will soon be wiped away.
A recent CBC radio report tells the heart-warming story of how one neighbor rallied friends to preserve and share the plants that were slated to be torn up when new homeowners started construction on an addition. The seller, Minnie Schentag, after 45 years in the family home decided it was time to move into an assisted living facility. And although the new owners said she was welcome to take any plants marked for removal, Schentag, 93, no longer had a garden of her own.
After admiring the years of devotion to her stunning garden, friends and neighbors came with shovels and pots to dig up perennials and relocate them to their own yards as well as a memorial garden at the local church. Minnie’s Legacy Garden honors the love and knowledge of plants Shentag was known for sharing with anyone who asked. Photographs were also taken of the garden before it was dug up and shared with Shentag in her new home, reminding her of the joy she once found digging in the dirt and cultivating something beautiful and which is now a living tribute in many gardens around Winnipeg.
Although not every new homeowner will invite the seller to dig up plants from the yard, with good communication, a few flowers or shrubs could be divided and shared without disrupting the existing landscaping. Transplanting these plants to a community center, church or small apartment garden can help ease the transition. And photographs taken of the garden, with its gardener, can be a treasured keepsake that sparks happy memories to be shared with caregivers and loved ones in new surrounds.