From cute carrots to beautiful beans, and radiant roses to delightful daffs, a bumper crop of entries has energised a care home provider’s second annual produce show.
Residents at all 21 Colten Care homes in the south took part in the friendly contest, planting and tending the growth of a dizzying array of fruit, veg, flowers and shrubs.
Working with their homes’ gardeners and Companions as soon as show categories were announced in the spring, the residents spent many happy and relaxing hours embracing the outdoors to complete their entries.
As well as produce growing over the summer, they made and decorated garden baskets, recycled spare items and materials as planters, built wildlife havens, painted pictures, did creative writing and baked garden-themed cakes.
To beat the challenges of Covid, entries were photographed, logged and uploaded to a central image library for judging rather than being physically presented.
The Poole dementia care home The Aldbury triumphed as overall winner with Braemar Lodge in Salisbury and Lymington dementia home Linden House both runners-up.
Pip Smith, a resident at The Aldbury, said: “It’s great that we won, as we all helped. We had great fun getting stuck into all the projects for each category. The garden is my favourite place. It’s where we spent most time on our entries, and Brett, the gardener, had us belly laughing with jokes throughout each activity.”
Tracey Aldin, The Aldbury Home Manager, said: “Everyone has worked so hard on this over the last few months. The residents have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in various activities to produce the final results. A huge thank-you goes to the Companionship team for their dedication and hard work. This accolade is well deserved and we are all very proud of what we have achieved.”
Charles Hubberstey, Colten Care’s Head Gardener, said: “While Covid restrictions meant it was more difficult to keep track of individual homes’ progress during the last few months, and of course meant we had to rejig our judging process, I would say the quality, imagination and breadth of thinking behind this year’s entries even surpassed 2019.
“There was some very creative artistry on display from residents who clearly have many skills to harness and enjoy. Covid certainly didn’t dampen the creativity. On the contrary, blessed with some glorious spring and summer weather, residents really got into this with good humour and bags of energy. It just goes to show that care homes can offer a real rejuvenation of activity and fun that wouldn’t necessarily be possible for older people living on their own.
“Another fantastic thing about this year’s show was that both the winner and one of the runners-up are dedicated dementia care homes. It’s fair to say that many of our residents, and perhaps especially those in dementia care, have found our gardens to be sanctuaries of peace and freedom during lockdown.
“Gardening and being among the joys of nature, from the riot of colour you see in flowering plants to the sound of birdsong and bumblebees, is widely accepted as being a welcome tonic for the body and mind. We asked each home to create a scrapbook about how they had put their entries together and every one is a testament to the fun people had.”
As well as a trophy, The Aldbury’s prize as show winners is a set of garden centre vouchers which will help continue the residents’ interest and joy in growing plants and produce.