Residents are a care organisation are keeping in touch with nature thanks to a dazzling dementia-friendly garden.
The vast array of thousands of varieties of flowers and plants at Pendine Park’s 11-acre site in Summerhill Road on the outskirts of Wrexham is providing a blaze of colour and a profusion of mother nature’s perfumes.
There are similar sights and scents and Pendine’s other sites in Wrexham and Caernarfon with all eight homes situated in acres of lovingly-tended grounds.
The spectacular multi-coloured spectacle is down to the imagination and hard work of head gardener Andrew Jones and his six-strong team of green-fingered staff.
Offering everything from roses to rhododendrons and aliums to geraniums, the gardens across each site have been described as looking “absolutely stunning
Andrew has been given free rein by Pendine’s nature-loving owners to choose exactly how the gardens should look, working without the constraints of “a plant budget” as he continually eyes up ways to further enhance the grounds.
As well as making the sites look visually appealing, Andrew plays another key role when it comes to choosing what flowers should be planted next.
He said Pendine Park values the importance of sensory plants, which allow residents with individual needs such as dementia and limited eyesight to have their senses stimulated – such as through touching or smelling.
Andrew, 56, regularly chooses brightly-coloured plants or those which are easy to feel or smell when deciding what should next adorn the grounds.
“A lot of credit should go to my predecessor who considered this to be important,” he said.
“They had clearly given some thought to it and I am happy to take the same approach.
“It’s about residents having the chance to touch something and engage with it.
“The idea is that they are getting to use their senses such as touch and smell.”
Andrew recognises the benefit of including “bright and brash” flowers throughout the grounds to help stimulate the sight of residents, while familiar floral delights such as Lamb’s Ears are ideal for touching.
“We look at all the senses that can be stimulated,” he said. “If any of our residents can benefit from it then we are happy to help.
“You could even potentially include taste, as there are plants such as nasturtiums which you can eat the leaves from.”
The desire to meet the needs of residents is also important to Andrew when it comes to choosing which new plants should be on view each day.
He works tirelessly with his team to ensure the gardens are immaculate and the residents are afforded attractive views from their windows.
Not only can they cast their eyes on a spectacular range of plants of all shapes and sizes throughout the sites, but there are also added attractions such as water features.
The spacious lawns and courtyards are ideal for residents to enjoy picnics and outdoor activities during the summer months.
Andrew is determined that residents should get the best possible experience from the gardens he loyally tends to.
“The residents live here. This is their home,” he said.
Andrew has worked in gardening for more than 40 years,
His past experiences include being head gardener on the 4,000-acre Leckford Estate in Hampshire, which is now home to the Waitrose Farm that supplies its supermarkets across the UK.
Taking on a similar role at Pendine Park five years ago allowed Andrew to return to his home town of Wrexham, while also enjoying the experience of helping to enhance the experience of residents.
As well as being tasked with making the grounds look a gardening paradise, Andrew has also helped encourage residents to grow their own fruit and veg.
He has found his efforts to get the gardens spot on have been aided by the support of Pendine Park’s proprietors, Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, who have regularly encouraged the team’s work.
“There’s no such thing here as a plant budget here,” said Andrew.
“Mario and Gill are very passionate about the gardens and I have never heard them say ‘no’ to me. It is a case of just getting what is needed.
“They both love nature and are very encouraging and I greatly enjoy working for Pendine Park.”
Rather more challenging is the unpredictability of the British weather, which has
In total Pendine’s the three sites provide 24 acres of land to be lovingly cared for.
Julie Wood, head of facilities at Pendine Park, has praised the work performed by the gardeners and the emphasis placed on having sensory plants in the grounds.
She said: “Improving the quality of our life for our residents is always uppermost in our minds.
“It’s not just about the quality of the bricks and mortar buildings but also the overall environment which is why the gardens are so important to us here at Pendine.
“They are beautiful all year round and at this time of year they are a riot of colour. The sensory element within the gardens is very important.
“Smell is one of the last senses to leave you and it helps to activate the memory.
“The gardens are absolutely stunning and a lot of credit should go to Andrew and his team.
“It is important that the residents have grounds like this, where they can go for some tranquillity.
“The gardens also serve an important role in terms of helping the health and wellbeing of our residents.”