Senior moments

Reclaiming your garden

I’ve always loved working in my garden but physically I find I just can't cope any more. Have you any tips on how I can keep on enjoying my garden? I'd hate to have to give it up entirely.

It can be incredibly frustrating when you find out you can't do as much as you used to in the garden. But the good news is that ageing shouldn't mean you have to give up gardening altogether. Instead, you need to look at ways to make your garden work for you and adapt your techniques to suit your capabilities.

First of all, review the garden with a relative or friend. For example, mowing the lawn may no longer be an option, so why not consider transforming the area, or part of it, to a paved surface with easy to reach, waist-high raised beds? Bringing in the dimension of height to your garden design adds a whole new aspect and the hard surface is easier to negotiate on foot or with mobility aids.

If re-designing the garden is not feasible then pots are the way to go. A large work table and bench, or even your kitchen table covered with newspaper, makes it easy to pot up flowers and vegetables for indoor or outdoor use.

Hanging baskets can also add an easy splash of colour as long as you have the right equipment. Look for aids such as 'watering wands' which make tasks easier and mean you don't have to take down the baskets regularly. Don't limit yourself to just flowers either. Try strawberries and even cherry tomatoes in your baskets for a colourful and flavoursome treat.

Be inventive. Look at a gardening project from a slightly different viewpoint and work out what you are physically capable of achieving. Then see if your traditional gardening methods can be adapted to allow you to continue with that project.

For example, if you've always loved growing your own vegetables you can still do so on a smaller scale using pots, tubs and trays. Growing 'cut and come again' lettuce in a tray with drainage holes filled with potting compost will allow you enjoy home-grown salads throughout the summer. Or train beans or peas up some canes in a large pot and plant herbs, carrots, radishes or other favourite vegetables around the base. You won't get huge harvests, but you will get ingredients to include in one or two meals out of it as well as the pleasure of having grown your own food.

Another good tip is to garden right outside your back or front door. Raise your containers on to tables or blocks to allow for easy access. When it comes to annuals in pots, pack them in. Colourful annuals grow up and over the pots so you will get drama and a beautiful arrangement.

Team up with other gardeners in your area. Enlist the help of others who might enjoy sharing the work and any produce or flowers from your garden.

Home Instead Senior Care is Ireland's trusted source of home care for seniors. Phone 091 384160 or visit www.homeinstead.ie

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