Seniors at Lookout Ridge retirement home added a colourful surprise to the garden.

A dozen residents got their hands dirty, planting a wide-variety of flowers, spices and plants in front of the home. The program led by Karin Vermeer, aims to get residents outside to participate in an activity many lose once moving into a retirement home.

“When you move into such a nice facility like this, it can be awesome. But you often give up having your own garden,” Vermeer said. “They miss out on the smells, the tastes, and the beauty of watching something grow throughout the summer.”

Vermeer did the planning of the gardens at Portal Village and Lookout Ridge retirement residence for a number of years. When she branched out on her own, she continued working with both, creating an opportunity for seniors to get into the gardens.

“I thought instead of just planting flowers, we could plant vegetables too. The residents could then come down and take care of the garden whenever they had free time. It turned out better than planned.”

Lettuce, blueberry and tomatoes have already been harvested out of the garden, equalling a tasty experience for the residents. Something Vermeer says it’s extremely important in senior homes.

“Just the activity of preparing food is often lost when you go into a home. It’s crucial to keep the small things like gardening a part of the daily routine and it’s also just plain fun to get your hands in the soil.”

Gardening increases levels of physical activity and helps mobility and flexibility. Not only one of the most relaxing summer activities, it provides stimulation and interest in nature and the outdoors during the growing season.

“Nothing is more simple then spending a day in the garden,” Vermeer said. “For them to get a chance to spend a couple hours in the sun is just a great overall experience which I’m glad to be a part of.”

Flowers in the garden were donated by Vermeers Garden Centre. To contact Vermeer about her therapy gardening visit