Garden Translator

 What would you grow if you had your own balcony basket to fill?

I’ve been receiving a lot of inquiry calls lately from people looking for garden maintenance services for their elderly parents. With no real shortage of garden services available, I got curious about what exactly callers were looking for. The responses were surprisingly similar.

“My mom wants red flowers not pink, and she wants to be out there directing exactly where they get planted.”

“My dad can no longer do the weeding, but he won’t be handing over the grass cutting anytime soon. He’s still using the push mower at 94!”

“At the end of last summer, my parents told us they were ready to give up their vegetable garden, but now when I call to check in, my mom keeps telling me that she should have planted tomatoes.”

Like all of us, seniors want to be heard when it comes to decisions about their home environments. There’s a simple “trick” for care partners who are trying to support their loved one’s need to downsize responsibilities: listen to what your loved one is after. For many lifelong gardeners, completely removing themselves from the garden is simply not an acceptable option.

For this week’s Tricks of the Trade Thursday, I’d like to encourage care partners to consider their role as translators of their loved one’s special requests—such as colour preferences—to a garden service they’re working with. Spending time in the garden, or even looking out onto the garden, is so much more pleasurable when surrounded by the plants you love. As a care partner you can also help brainstorm and gather supplies for a simple but meaningful garden project that will keep your loved one engaged and doing the activities that bring them joy.

In a recent Creative Companionship visit, I watched one client set up a raised basket to grow lettuce using only materials we had gathered from around the house. The balcony nook quickly became a little oasis, a much-visited spot for watching, watering, and picking fresh greens. A place where the gardener of the house could regain her sense of control of the outdoor space.

I’d love to hear—What would you grow if you had your own balcony basket to fill?