Gardens at Sunnyside Retirement Center in Glenwood Springs keep residents busy, happy
Post Independent Intern
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Between digging, weeding, planting and pruning, the residents of Sunnyside Retirement Center are keeping busy this summer. Gardens are scattered throughout the Sunnyside property, lining sidewalks and filling corners with colorful blooms. “We have gardens all the way around the building,” said Grace Schick, a Sunnyside resident for the past six years.
Sunnyside is an independent living center in downtown Glenwood Springs, currently housing 56 residents. Many of the residents had gardens at their previous homes and have transferred their flair for flowers to Sunnyside’s lawns. “It’s a win-win situation,” said Schick. “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have a place to dig in the dirt. I’ve been working in the garden ever since I moved in.”
Many of the residents share Schick’s passion for gardening and have stepped up to face several challenges in recent years. “If you walk through the gardens you’ll see that everyone puts a lot of effort into it,” said Joan Morse, a resident for the past year.
With no shortage of eager gardeners available, the gardens at Sunnyside are expanding quickly. However, the poor economy has resulted in decreased funds available to purchase plants, bark, and topsoil. “We were not able to finance plants for the residence this year,” said Sunnyside Director Marti Duprey. “The residents stepped up and bought their own plants. They’re very proud of it.”
Some residents, Schick among them, aren’t able to spend long periods of time working in the gardens. “I broke my hip last year and had to have surgery. Before that I was up and down and on my knees and upside down in these gardens,” Schick said. Regardless of her recent surgery, Schick still works in the gardens on a regular basis, occasionally enlisting the services of her daughter and grandson.
Many of the residents who are unable to work in the gardens help finance them, contributing funds to help purchase the necessary items. In an effort to involve more of the residents, the gardeners hope to build a small greenhouse next year. “More people could have a hand in it if the plants were where they could reach them,” said Schick.
Each garden is specific to a resident or two, though everyone assists in tending to them. Julia Jewkes, a resident for the past 13 years, transplanted several iris plants from her previous home with the help of her son. She also purchased multiple lilac bushes to decorate the lawns of Sunnyside. “There was nothing here but this old grass when I came here,” Jewkes said.
Several memorial gardens are also located around the grounds. Patsy’s Garden, a burst of colorful blossoms in front of the main entrance, is maintained in honor of Patsy Fowler, a previous resident. “Patsy started the front garden. When I moved here, that was all she did. You didn’t even see her face; she was always bent over working in the garden. She was avid about gardening,” Schick said.
The gardens have helped to form a sense of community at Sunnyside as the residents work together to tend the flowers. “If people have had their own home for 30 or 40 years, when they’ve had full control, it’s hard to share. One person might think the irises should go over here; another might want them over there,” said Duprey. “But they’re willing to have that give and take. They work together.”
Although gardening has been an important activity at Sunnyside for years, the residents have recently shown increased interest. “They have taken real pride in their gardens this year,” said Margie Trebesh, Sunnyside’s finance manager. “They’re going to work towards a vegetable garden next year.”
Many of the residents are truly passionate about their gardens, and their dedication is evident when one walks around the lawn. The gardens house everything from geraniums and roses to tomatoes and chives, and the variety is continuously increasing. The Sunnyside gardens are undoubtedly worth visiting, and many of the gardeners are happy to give tours. “We really enjoy doing it,” Morse said. “It’s there for everyone to enjoy.”
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will continue to be closed due to “extreme damage” from the latest round of heavy rain and flooding Saturday night, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced Sunday afternoon.