While it must be said that Vertical Gardening is a relatively new and contemporary way of gardening, it is fair to say that older members of our society may just stand to benefit greatly from them.
I am sure we all know of at least one person who for one reason or another has become unable to garden in the way, or indeed in the location, that they once always enjoyed. Some may have difficulties bending down, others may find that the weeding has just become too much, others may have moved into an assisted living situation or simply downsized to a smaller home. It’s easy to see how these people might think that their gardening days are behind them and sadly, miss out on all the pleasure and health benefits gardening can offer. Gardens too, can provide powerful emotional ties, indeed, it is often the garden that most creates the all important ‘sense of place’ for older folk when looking at new living situations.
For those who can no longer garden the way they once did, vertical gardening can breathe new life into the aged person’s life, allowing them to more easily indulge in a pastime that they have loved and benefited from. In domestic situations, vertical gardens can be used to create an easier gardening experience by allowing the gardener to work on a level that suits their abilities. The ‘soil type’ vertical gardening systems offer up enormous options for a wide range of plants to be grown in them – a traditional, simple experience of digging in potting mix with trowel. Some vertical gardens have a limited range of plants that must be epiphytes to survive and while they have aesthetic merits, gardeners can’t ‘garden’ in them, nor grow the array of flowers and edibles easily achieved in the soil type systems such as the open tiered, steel greenwalls and mobiwalls.
Older gardeners might want a vertical garden to be able to more easily grow some of the herbs and veggies that have grown in their home garden for years, perhaps they want to keep some precious, old favourite plants from another garden and grow some nostalgic varieties that remind them of another time. Perhaps a vertical garden could offer them an array of old fashioned, fragranced plants like dwarf gardenias, bouvardias, rosemary, star jasmine or scented geraniums that evoke memories for them; perhaps they want a vertical garden just to green up an austere courtyard and screen out the apartment next door. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that vertical gardens can offer up all sorts of opportunities and make the pursuit of gardening a whole lot easier and more enjoyable for people as they age.
Benefits of a vertical garden for the aged
- don’t have to bend – can ‘garden’ sitting or standing
- can have a huge variety of plants (in an open tiered, steel, soil media vertical garden )
- can create that all important sense of place to make a place feel like home
- can be used to create privavcy
- can enjoy all the fun stuff, planting, watering and harvesting without the chores!
Gardeners of all ages will be drawn to a Vertical garden; but aged gardeners stand to benefit tremendously from the growing trend of gardening vertically. Aged care, hospital and hostel facilities are already realising the benefits of horticultural therapy in their facilities-these therapies provide interest, activity, beauty, a sensory experience and a communal space for chatting, hence a sense of well being. Gardens have a positive affect in such places and it makes sense to include vertical gardens so that people of all abilities are encouraged to not only enjoy the view but to have a go at gardening too!
Carolyn Blackman is the co-director of http://edennow.com.au. edenNOW is the sole distributor for the open tiered, steel GARSY range of vertical garden products in Australia. Carolyn has over 20 years experience in Horticulture and Landscape Design. She is a regular guest on Saturday Morning Gardening program on Melbourne radio ABC 774