UPMC Senior Communities

visit: UPMCSeniorCommunities.com

It seems that UPMC Senior Communities residents still love to play in the dirt. Resident gardens are flourishing at many campuses, including Sherwood Oaks continuing care retirement community in Cranberry Township, Seneca Hills Village independent living in Penn Hills, and Beatty Pointe Village independent living in Monroeville.

The residents of Sherwood Oaks always have a variety of garden projects to tend. Early residents, as much as 35 years ago, created two gardens of perennials on the outskirts of the community. Throughout the years, amidst construction and new buildings, these plants have found their way to a community garden closer to the main building. This garden is known as the Wimbledon Garden, and is tended to by half a dozen residents. “We do the weeding and pruning and cover the bed with mulch in the fall for winter protection, and clean it up in the spring,” Betty Eichler, a resident of Sherwood Oaks, said.

About six years ago, the Sherwood Oaks Landscape Committee received money to establish the Summerhouse Gardens, eight separate gardens arranged along a crushed gravel walking path. These eight gardens consist of honeysuckle and trumpet vines, spring, summer, and fall flowering bulbs, many different herbs, an impressive amount of vegetable, and annual and perennial flowers such as Butterfly Bush, Black-eyed Susan, Daisies, and Hollyhock. These gardens also include attractive watering features, and shaded seating areas throughout.

Using Earth Day as her inspiration, Trish Gill, Activities Coordinator at Seneca Hills Village, started a garden by planting an array of vegetables such as lettuce, spring onions, zucchini, and tomatoes. Two Seneca Hills residents, Ann Lakes and Ed Tondolo, often assist in the garden throughout the season. Ann loves planting and seeing the progress of things growing – she has even replanted flowers around the building that were donated by a family member of a resident who passed away. Ed is also very involved in keeping the gardens beautiful. He has been gardening since his childhood and loves planting marigolds to keep the mosquitos away and tomatoes to make tomato wine! “I truly love to garden. It always keeps me interested in something,” Ed said.

After seeing gardening projects at other UPMC Senior Communities, Ashley Herman, Activities Coordinator at Beatty Pointe Village was inspired to begin a ‘green’ gardening project for Earth Day. Many of the residents enjoy sitting outside on the patio, which was previously near a plain shed. Ashley wanted to take the space and turn it into a colorful and fun area that the residents truly enjoyed.

“I love to see colorful murals around the city of Pittsburgh, especially in places that could use some color and love,” Ashley said. She cited Randyland on Pittsburgh’s North Side as another motivation for this project, as most of the exhibitions are made of recycled materials turned into colorful art.

Ashley began a recycling collection in April and gathered many plastic lids, bottles, containers, and tin cans. She and the residents created a garden mural on the side of the shed with these recycled materials. There is also a garden next to the shed that includes tomatoes, peppers, basil, pansies, and marigolds. “The residents love to go out there. It is now a conversation starter for them and motivation to get outside their rooms!” Ashley said. “I encourage residents to water the plants, clean up the garden, or pick off a tomato or pepper for themselves.” One resident, Bud Leisenring, does just that. “I used to always have gardens before I moved to Beatty Pointe, so I love being able to go outside and help water the plants,” Bud said.

Because this project uses exclusively recycled materials, it is ongoing. Ashley and the residents are currently in the process of creating a wishing well made from recycled tires donated by a UPMC plumber.

A therapeutic garden nurtures the mind, body, and spirit, and can help increase dexterity, independence, and even confidence. UPMC Senior Communities celebrates this passion for the memories and joy it evokes among the residents as well as for the abundance of flowers, herbs, and vegetables it produces.  What a bountiful harvest!

For more information about UPMC Senior Communities,
call 1-800-324-5523 or visit UPMCSeniorCommunities.com.