John Scott Martin, a 70 year old green-fingered resident at a New Barnet care home has taken on the new honorary role of Director of Gardens, tasked with choosing planting schemes and providing advice on the extensive gardens at the Cedar Gardens Care Centre (known as Cedars), on Richmond Road in New Barnet.
“Last year, we had a gentleman stay with us for a few months who took a real active interest in the gardens, directing our staff with ideas for planting, including our new kitchen garden,” comments manager, Fran Walsh. “Whilst he was too frail to do the digging, he knew exactly what plants to go where and we often joked that he was our ‘director of gardens’, so we have decided to formalise the role. John has always been an enthusiastic and passionate gardener, but with mobility difficulties, keeping up a garden of his own would be impossible, so here, we can give them the best of both worlds: with top class nursing care combined with a team of enthusiastic gardening staff who are ready to learn from his experience!”
John was over the moon to be asked to take the role, having a life-long interest in gardening, as his family fondly remembers, “He grew up with his mother tending a pretty cottage garden and his father tending the allotment,” explained sister, Jane. “There were always fresh, home-grown vegetables and soft fruit – some years there were so many strawberries that we couldn’t eat them all.” Son, Peter Martin was amused to hear this, adding, “I remember him coming home with bags and bags of rhubarb – which I didn’t even like! But I loved everything else he grew. He also had a pretty, canalside garden when he had a Narrow Boat business. Now living at Cedars, he spends all of every day sitting in the garden whenever the weather allows, watching the birds and wildlife, as well as enjoying being outside and looking at the trees, planting and flowers.”
One of the areas that the new director of gardens will take charge of will be a dedicated enclosed garden for the home’s dementia sufferers. Work will shortly get underway on an accessible outdoor space, where residents can access without risk of harm.
“When you are caring for people with dementia, if they choose to walk with purpose – that is, wander around with a purpose or a goal in their mind – they are able to do so safely. Good practice in many care homes enables residents to wander around the home, but there are usually security measures in place to stop them from roaming out of the building,” explains Fran. “This garden will enable them to freely explore and use an outdoor space safely, further improving their quality of life despite the debilitating nature of the illness.”