Gardening is a hobby that many enjoy. From vegetables to florals to succulents and more, gardening is a great de-stressor, gives you a chance to explore your creativity and create a nice atmosphere. Plants bring a pretty texture to a room’s decor, and also have the added benefit of helping purify the air. While many retirement communities have a community garden, some seniors may wish to cultivate their own personal green space.
“Gardening, like any other form of art, is a wonderful way to express yourself and make a space your own,” says Angel Van Horn, Community Relations Specialist at Park Manor, the most trusted retirement community in Nashville, TN. She says that some seniors may be hesitant to move into a retirement community because they won’t have the opportunity to keep up a personal garden. However, there are many opportunities to create various gardens indoors.
“Indoor gardens can be just as fulfilling as outdoor gardens, and you’ll find you can grow everything from flowers to herbs and vegetables,” says Angel. “Residents who choose to transform their living space into a green escape have benefitted from the beauty and color that living plants add to their personal space.” Plus, gardening indoors can be a lot less work than dealing with a huge garden plot that needs constant weeding/fertilizing/etc.
Setting Up Your Indoor Garden
The keys to successfully pulling off an indoor garden are thoughtful planning, using your space wisely and putting your plans into action properly.
Find the right location. This can take some creative thinking, particularly if you live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment. The obvious spot would be near a window, either on a table, ledge or plant stand. However, don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Any spot that gets enough light can be used as a garden. You can use shelves, racks, hanging baskets or anything else that strikes your fancy.
Decide what to grow. Once you’ve found a spot, it’s time to figure out what to grow. Knowing what your lighting situation is can help you determine what types of plants to choose – and which to avoid. Depending on your level of green-thumb-ness, you may wish to stick with plants that are simple to care for and easy to grow. Popular plants for indoor gardens include:
- Herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage and parsley
- Flowers, both annual and perennial
- Hardy plants that can grow just about anywhere, such as mother-in-law’s tongue, bamboo, rubber fig or peace lily
Choose the right containers. Any type of container can become a pot for your plants, as long as you make sure there’s proper drainage. That simply means that there are holes in the bottom of the pot so excess water can drain away, avoiding “wet feet” and root rot. Typically, containers are made from clay, fiberglass, ceramic or simple plastic. Choose a pot that’s appropriate for your style of plant while also ensuring room for growth. As your plants grow, it’s possible you’ll need to replant them in bigger containers. However, you don’t want to pot your plants in too large of a container, as this can impede growth as much as a too-small pot.
Set up adequate lighting. If your apartment gets adequate natural light, you’re in luck – you’ll just need to position your plants in an appropriate spot and let nature do her thing. If you don’t get much sunlight or you get the wrong type of sunlight (such as only getting western sun which can be too harsh for many varieties of plants), you’ll need to adjust your plan choices accordingly or find workarounds with external light sources.
Water appropriately. When watering your plants, take the Goldilocks approach: not too much, not too little. Over-watering is a common occurrence with (and the main source of death of) indoor plants. Having proper drainage is a great first step, but you’ll want to research whatever plants you choose to make sure you’re giving them the proper amount of hydration. The internet is a great place to research, but you can also speak to area nurseries. You’ll also need to adjust your watering levels depending on how cold or hot the weather is. A general rule of thumb is to stick your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels moist, the plant is adequately watered.
Choosing Your Garden Style
Now comes the fun part – choosing how to design your indoor garden. Whether you want something as simple as pots by the window or a multi-story plantscape, you have endless options to choose from to show off your creativity and make your garden your “own.” A quick Google search will bring up practically endless ideas that you can adapt to your space to show off foliage in new and different ways. It’s all about using the space you have and finding creative ways to make use of otherwise unused space. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Go vertical. Vertical gardens are the hot “it” style for apartment-dwellers these days (just look at Pinterest). Going up instead of out allows you to create a verdant cornucopia of options no matter how small your space is. It also allows you to use your plants to create living artwork that will be a definite conversation piece
- Purchase a pallet garden wall (or create your own using a pallet picked up from your local hardware store) for a moveable piece that can easily be leaned or attached to any wall.
- Choose a strong steel mesh and some hanging pots (often used in kitchen gardens) and attach your plants to the mesh with hooks. Since they’re easy to move, you can create patterns or swap out styles whenever you’re in the mood.
- Grab a garment rack and place hanging pots at various levels for instant interest.
Get it rolling. Being able to move your garden from here to there can be very helpful if you need to make sure you have enough space when others come over. Make it fancy with a vintage bar cart, trolley or even a small decommissioned shopping cart.
Use fun containers. The easiest way to add visual interest is by using unique and conversation-worthy containers to store your plants. Plant kitchen herbs in old teacups or teapots, or transform odd vases into planters by drilling holes in the bottom.
“Being able to show off your individuality through gardening can really make your retirement apartment your own, which can help make your new place a true home,” says Angel.
We invite you to learn how Assisted Living services at Park Manor can help support your independence and allow you to live the vibrant lifestyle you deserve. For more information or to schedule a tour of our senior living community, please contact us at 615.997.3030.
Love Where You Live!
Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Do I love where I live?” If you ask that question of the residents of Park Manor, Nashville’s premier retirement community, the answer would be a resounding, “Yes!” For over 50 years, Park Manor has served Nashville’s seniors by providing a community designed to support an active, independent, secure, healthy and worry-free lifestyle. Located on seven spacious acres in the desirable Nashville neighborhood Belle Meade, we’re proud to provide a lifestyle our residents love each and every day.
Park Manor’s approach to senior living is simple: exceed our residents’ expectations. We strive to provide everything you could possibly need and want to live your life the way you choose. At Park Manor, you will enjoy a standard of living reminiscent of a luxury resort – but it’s not a vacation – it’s your lifestyle! This commitment is why we are held in such high regard by our surrounding community and are known as the premier retirement community offering Independent Living and Assisted Living lifestyles.
For seniors requiring memory care, Park Manor is associated with the prestigious Abe’s Garden® Memory Care Center of Excellence. Abe’s Garden is committed to transforming the care of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by establishing a national model of residential living and day care programs for those suffering from the disease. Abe’s Garden provides an unprecedented level of care in addition to a comprehensive array of services and lifestyle options.
At Park Manor, your continued independence is our top priority. Enjoy living life as you choose … in the comfort and privacy of your own apartment, while having the peace of mind of knowing help is available if and when you need it.
For more information, please call 615.997.3030.