Yard of the Month: Sunnyside blooms with resident inspired gardens
Residents of Sunnyside Retirement Center have planted and maintained garden plots around their residence through the years. They have created many colorful gardens of various kinds and sizes, totally resident inspired and maintained. The beautiful flowers are brightly blooming at Sunnyside, and the garden areas keep growing.
Such a pleasure it is to walk up, down and around the facility with those gardeners, as the four members of the GWS Garden Club Yard of the Month Committee did recently. Sunnyside is being recognized as the July Yard of the Month. And it is exceptional this month. The gardeners invite everyone to stroll around the center and enjoy their gardens.
Stories abound about these garden areas. Historically, Patsy Fowler (deceased) began the first garden plot by the front entrance to Sunnyside around 20 years ago.
When Grace Schick, who is a Garden Club member, moved there she offered to help with the front garden. Grace explained, “However, my help was not accepted. So, because I prefer to be outside, I began my own garden area.” Her area on the north side of the building has expanded significantly during the past decade and a half. There are too-many-to-count potted plants hanging and sitting in nooks on the patio outside the residents’ communal sitting area. Additionally there are perennials of many colors and textures climbing up a rock garden area to the top of a small hill. At 88 years young, Grace enjoys watering all of them daily.
Joanie Morse giggled and chimed into the conversation, “I’ve even snuck in a couple big potted tomato plants — permission was granted by Grace of course.” The unwritten rule at Sunnyside is once you claim and develop a garden plot or area, it is yours as long as you want. Only when plots become open can another resident take it over. Joanie must use a walker now, but for 11 years, she tended and added to the front entrance garden area, which this month is blooming with white and red climbing roses, black hollyhocks, purple clematis, columbine, lilies and yucca.
The grounds at Sunnyside now have 14 different gardeners tending plots and pots. Most have prior gardening and farming backgrounds and feel a sense of deep enjoyment developing vegetable and flower garden areas. The camaraderie and commitment is evident among these gardeners. They exude as much pride in sharing info about the gardens of others as they do their own area. And with all the growth, it is obvious that they do assist and encourage each other.
Vegetables are mostly grown in higher wooden containers, four of which were built by Grace’s grandson. The GWS Garden Club had donated money for that project.
Joan Remsbecher has her “salad bar” in one raised container, and it is overflowing with chard, spinach, tomatoes, basil, peppers, zucchini, peas and herbs. She and Jude O’Donnell began this garden area five years back. This couple interestingly has other veggies and herbs mixed with perennials, rhubarb and wildflowers along deep borders on the ground in their gardening area.
“We even have three different kinds of cucumbers growing here,” Jude explained. Theirs is a larger, partially shaded area on the north lawn and a favorite spot to sit and admire the gardens.
On the south side of the lawns, Sis Rowan began a rose garden six years ago. The results are huge and gorgeous. “I use only natural fertilizer,” Sis related. She also is growing strawberries, tomatoes, peas, arugula, beets and cilantro in two raised veggie boxes located in a nook between sections of Sunnyside. Her gardens are not even close to her apartment, but she enjoys the walk to tend them. What is amazing to note is the clematis growing there and on every side of the center. The white and purple blossoms are huge, and the plants appear overflowing this summer.
Some gardens are right outside the windows of the resident. Jan Tennis is one of those and teased, “I’m more of an observer. From my window through the hollyhocks I’ve even seen a bear with three cubs.”
But most have to carry soil, pots, gardening tools and water to areas not visible from their apartments. They all appreciate and admire the hummingbirds, butterflies, and a robin’s nest in a tree, along with other animals their gardens have attracted. Several expressed delight to have pollinators enjoying their flowers. These residents just love to garden and beautify their surroundings.
Abundantly the flowers and veggies are growing at Sunnyside and so do the number of garden areas. Recently the gardeners worked together to create a flower fountain as a memorial garden for Velma Russo, their friend who passed in 2019. They have each planted special flowers in that garden.
Additional gardeners currently at Sunnyside include Mary Rose Ward, Alicia Remmick, Judith Kess, Marilyn Wiggins, Carol Jean Kraig, Michelle Vogel, Glynda Stanford and Sunnyside manager Jen Schrock. All at Sunnyside invite the community to stroll along their flower pot lined walkways and smell the roses.
Ann English is past president of Glenwood Springs Garden Club.
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.