Nur­ture your love of gar­den­ing in later life

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Dr Derek Clark’s job took him to some of the most hor­rific dis­as­ters in mod­ern his­tory: from the Zee­brugge ferry tragedy in 1987, to the Piper Al­pha oil plat­form ex­plo­sion in 1988 and the Locker­bie plane bomb­ing in De­cem­ber of the same year. As a foren­sic odon­tol­o­gist, he had to help iden­tify the dead us­ing their teeth.

Do­ing this tough job re­quired an out­let: when he was in Thai­land for four months in 2005, help­ing res­cue teams af­ter the tsunami, he spent the evenings de­sign­ing a gar­den for his new home back in the UK.

“It was a dis­trac­tion from my job, which was very stress­ful,” ex­plains Dr Clark, who re­tired af­ter the tragedy. “There was a lot of emo­tional stress. De­sign­ing the gar­den was ther­apy.”

He is now 85, and has just de­signed an­other gar­den at Aud­ley Mote, a re­tire­ment de­vel­op­ment, where he and his wife, Chris­tine, 73, bought a twobed­room cot­tage six years ago.

The cou­ple have trans­formed the old walled gar­den from an un­kempt grass­land into a land­scape of blooms, trees and ev­er­greens.

“We would not have moved to Aud­ley Mote had we not been able to have a gar­den,” says Dr Clark. “We have lost a lot of other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, so we can fo­cus on our passion now – we don‘t have to worry about the roof leak­ing or out­side dec­o­ra­tion.”

The walled gar­den at Aud­ley Mote in Kent dates from 1796, and used to be the kitchen gar­den for the Grade II listed Ge­or­gian man­sion, which now houses 14 apart­ments as well as a fit­ness stu­dio, a restau­rant and a swim­ming pool.

There is also a small al­lot­ment area of raised beds, where the Clarks have grown toma­toes and cour­gettes, and neighbours have planted run­ner beans, au­bergines, beet­root and onions.

“We share the pro­duce, and neighbours help with wa­ter­ing when we go on hol­i­day,” adds Dr Clark. Prices at Aud­ley Mote start at £385,000 for a two-bed­room apart­ment.

Gar­den­ing is known to have both men­tal and phys­i­cal ben­e­fits, and for some re­tirees it can be harder to give up their beloved gar­den than their home when they move.

A study by the horticultural jour­nal HortS­cience found that just 30 min­utes of gen­tle gar­den­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis of­fers huge ben­e­fits to phys­i­cal health. In 2016, The King’s Fund char­ity re­leased a study rec­om­mend­ing to the med­i­cal com­mu­nity that it should pre­scribe gar­den­ing to pro­mote bet­ter phys­i­cal and men­tal health.

Mar­i­lyn Dun­can, 78, moved from north Lon­don to a one-bed­room bun­ga­low at Re­tire­ment Vil­lages’ Elm­bridge Vil­lage in Sur­rey 12 years ago – just so she could have an al­lot­ment.

“It was the main cri­te­ria for me when I was look­ing for a re­tire­ment prop­erty,” she says. “I had never been to Sur­rey be­fore and didn’t know any­one.” Now she not only wields a spade and fork, but runs the al­lot­ment pro­gramme with fel­low res­i­dent Michael Buckoke. Some 22 res­i­dents now have al­lot­ments at the vil­lage grow­ing veg­eta­bles, herbs and flow­ers. There are also fruit trees and 12 green­houses.

Gar­den­ing is also a great ther­apy for the sin­gle re­tired civil ser­vant. “If I am feel­ing a bit down, I go to the al­lot­ment and am in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent world,” says Dun­can. “I’ve also seen oth­ers be­come more lively when they are gar­den­ing. We even have a few in their 90s.”

There is a so­cial area of ta­bles and chairs near the al­lot­ment where res­i­dents can take breaks in be­tween prun­ing, plant­ing and rak­ing, and they held their first so­cial event re­cently in the vil­lage club­house. Some­times a small bal­cony can be enough for gar­den lovers. June Brodier, 76, who down­sized two years ago to a twobed­room apart­ment at In­spired Vil­lages’ Dur­rants Vil­lage in Fay­gate, West Sus­sex, has cre­ated a gar­den on her bal­cony, which she can ac­cess from the French win­dows in her bed­room.

“My pre­vi­ous house in Cater­ham had been home for 42 years, but af­ter my hus­band passed away, the prop­erty, and the gar­den in par­tic­u­lar, was too big to look af­ter on my own.

“I like be­ing in the cen­tre of things and so an apart­ment within the club­house build­ing has been per­fect for me, with the bal­cony al­low­ing me to still keep pots of plants.” Prices for two and three-bed­room cot­tages at Dur­rants Vil­lage start from £448,950.

“Gar­den­ing can be very re­lax­ing and ther­a­peu­tic for some peo­ple, so we recog­nise the im­por­tance of fa­cil­i­tat­ing this for all of our res­i­dents,” says James Cobb, the sales di­rec­tor for In­spired Vil­lages. “Res­i­dents do not need to worry about their gar­dens if they go away – our on-site staff can help with wa­ter­ing, and often res­i­dents will help each other care for their plants, too.”

At Mickle Hill in Pick­er­ing, North York­shire, own­ers have es­tab­lished a gar­den­ing club and taken over the com­mu­nal gar­dens, cre­at­ing flower beds, a court­yard with raised beds, and a ser­vice to help fel­low own­ers spruce up their pa­tios.

Si­mon Lyle, 72, a re­tired civil ser­vant who lives in a two-bed­room bun­ga­low with his wife, Betty, is on the eight­strong gar­den­ing com­mit­tee at the vil­lage. “We have 10 acres here, so there is lots of space,” he says. “We are wait­ing for a green­house, and the idea is to get all the own­ers in­volved in cre­at­ing a lovely, colour­ful gar­den for us all to en­joy.” The gar­den­ing club has also

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