Towergate in Bloom Gardening Competition

Our Towergate in Bloom summer gardening competition was launched to celebrate the joys of gardening with care homes and hospices across the UK. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Meet the winners and runner-up entries below:

Care home gardening stories

Care Home Winner

Aigburth Care Home

At our gardening club we relish the freedom from stress and anxiety as we think about what we are doing with the plants and what they need.

Smelling and touching the plants and soil is a satisfying activity and brings back childhood memories. It gives us physical and mental exercise and opportunities for talking about what grows together well. It teaches us patience, determination and perseverance as we constantly monitor what is happening with plant growth.

We learn from our mistakes and also pass our gardening knowledge on to each other and volunteers working with us. It reminds us that we are doing something for the bees, birds and wild-life and the outdoor environment.

Above all we are rewarded by the beauty of the plants and it inspires us as we work together to make something lovely which we can enjoy.

Care Home Runner-Up

Friends of the Elderly (Copford Place)


Words from a Rustic Gardener

Just working in my garden
Can do so much for me,
And though my years are passing
It’s wonderful to be
So near to Mother Nature
To hear the birds shrill song
And breathe the fresh air freely
Watch the clouds scud along.

See daffodils in springtime
With their bright yellow heads,
The tulips shining by them
With their deep vivid reds,
The roses in the summer
Send out their fragrant flowers,
Then pick a fresh tomato
Ripened in recent hours.

Raised flower beds make it simple
As do long handled tools
And to assist the bending
We have raised kneeling stools.
My youthful days are over
Or so young people say
But being in my garden
An hour or so each day
Just keeps me feeling younger
So don’t take it away.
PLEASE.

Care Home Runner-Up

Wentworth Court

Wentworth Court is a specialist dementia nursing home with 62 residents and our beautiful garden is planted with flowers, herbs and vegetables where residents can relax with family and friends.

Created in 2017, the residents helped to decide what the garden would look like and chose what to plant. Fragrant plants such as lavender and honeysuckle are popular as well as favourites recalled from home gardens including roses, camellias and fruit trees.

Residents help to look after the herbs and vegetables which helps to stimulate memories and conversations. Our chickens are a particular favourite with the residents who help with feeding, and the eggs are used by the kitchen team.

Tending the garden has provided amazing therapeutic benefits for residents, helping with anxious behaviour and providing a sense of purpose. Weather permitting, the garden is well-loved and used on a daily basis.

Hospice gardening stories

Hospice Winner

The Norfolk Hospice

Gardening and our gardens play a significant part in the day to day activities at the Norfolk Hospice. We have patient and bereavement gardening groups providing valuable therapy sessions and our beautiful landscaped gardens create a peaceful oasis for our end-of-life patients.

Gardens, plants, trees and the outdoors have always been associated with medicine and healing. Gardening and getting out in the fresh air are great when managing patient symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety and pain. It lifts the spirits by increasing self-esteem through meaningful and purposeful activity. Gardening activities and being outdoors helps with our bereavement groups by offering the opportunity to socialize, connect with others and with nature.

In the words of one of our patients:

"I feel I have an occupation and something to achieve, making decisions on what to grow where and when. Tending to the plants with support and encouragement gives me motivation to continue."

Hospice Runner-Up

Accord Hospice

Accord

At the Accord Hospice Day Therapy Unit (DTU) we had a laugh, what was a wee packet of lifeless seeds going to do for us, they looked like they had no future!

We sowed them indoors into dark earth feeling the cool compost through our fingers and waited. We wanted to create colour to welcome back our new Inpatient Unit (IPU) as it finished a six-month refurbishment by sowing planters at DTU.

With tending from Joan and heat from the sun the soil quickly changed from a suggestion of shoots to a carpet of green, then tall multi-coloured flowers that were enjoyed by bees and moved in the breeze. They were ready for the return of patients to IPU...life had taken hold.

This story tells of the benefits of gardening for palliative care patients where a fun, social, sensory, orientating, physical, life affirming, spiritual activity adds life to days more than days to life.

Joan is pictured giving her pots to the IPU; she has achieved a showy end product that presents a living gift from and to patients with palliative care needs.

Hospice Runner-Up

St Rocco’s Hospice

“The Gardening Club has helped save my life.”

So says Alan who attends the Friday morning Gardening Club at St. Rocco’s Hospice, Warrington.

Every week a diverse group of people – patients, volunteers and bereaved relatives meet to plant, tend, weed and sow in the garden of the hospice’s Vitality Centre. While they work together they chat, laugh and encourage each other. They grow a great assortment of fruit, vegetables and flowers and meet year round, whatever the weather.

Alan attended the very first session which coincidentally fell on the first anniversary of his wife’s death at the hospice.

“I was in such despair; I could hardly speak at that first meeting. I couldn’t face my own garden because of the memories, but the Gardening Club got me out of the house and involved with other people. I could enjoy the garden here and make new friends. Now I feel that I am in a position to help others facing the challenges that I have dealt with.”

Health benefits of gardening

As specialists in the care sector, we know that gardening can provide many and varied benefits, including:

  • Fresh air, exercise and change of environment - contributing to increased strength and stamina and improved appetite and sleeping habits.
  • Improving co-ordination/motor skills from activities like sowing and picking.
  • Boosts to vitamin D, important for bone health and combatting depression.
  • Sensory stimuli, which are especially beneficial to dementia sufferers and can ease symptoms, improving memory and reducing agitation.
  • Encouraging people to reconnect with an activity they enjoy, invoke forgotten memories and help in the creation of life histories.
  • A sense of pride and achievement can be developed which can be shared with employees, visitors and the wider community.
  • A valuable perspective can be gained from the cycle of sowing, planting, nurturing and harvesting and benefits personal health and wellbeing.
  • Encourages other activities such as reading, flower arranging, painting and photography.
  • Social interaction with others, which can combat loneliness.

Terms and Conditions: Towergate in Bloom Gardening Competition

The competition is open to all UK based care homes, domiciliary care providers and hospices and is governed by English law.

Entry into the competition closes on 31 August 2018, after this date no further entry into the competition will be allowed. By entering the competition, all entrants agree the photograph they supply is their own and may be used by Towergate Insurance in any promotional activity. All entrants will be evaluated and short listed by judges appointed by Towergate Caring Professions Division and their decision is final. Only one entry per individual care home, domiciliary care provider or hospice into the competition is allowed.

The short-listed entrants will be subject to a public vote which will open on the 7 September 2018. The winners will be notified by telephone on 28 September 2018. Employees of Towergate Underwriting Group Limited and/or any of its holding or subsidiary companies or their family members shall not be permitted to enter the competition. The winning prizes will be Compliments vouchers which can be used in a wide variety of locations and are subject to their own terms and conditions. No cash alternative will be offered.

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