Gardening therapy proves a tonic for residents
The two acres of wooded grounds in which Fernhill House is set not only provide a secluded calm environment in which to live – they also offer ample opportunity for relaxation, hobbies and propagating delicious home grown vegetables.
Award winning chef Chris Williams, an erstwhile Masterchef contestant who has worked with Marco Pierre White and Heston Blumenthal, is the driving force behind Fernhill’s kitchen garden.
An immense fan of organic food – indeed he used to run an organic café staffed by people with autism and learning difficulties – he uses the fruits (and vegetables) of his labour in his mouth-watering recipes at every opportunity.
And residents are invited to join him at planting, watering, harvesting, cooking and, of course, eating time. The secure sensory garden – whose tranquillity and beauty was admired by the public at large during a recent Open Gardens event – provides a haven for all residents who are encouraged to indulge in their hobby if they have green-fingered leanings.
And when the weather is more traditionally British there is also an indoor potting shed near a very realistic indoor faux lawn and just next door to a ‘real’ pub and vintage style shop!
Maintenance manager David Smith runs ad hoc, weather dependent, gardening sessions, with activities run by other staff if residents have a sudden urge to plunge their hands into a flowerpot, as happened when Margaret Archer joined nurse Caroline Blackmore for a spot of potting up in the sensory garden recently.
Fernhill House manager Peta Mandleberg, a registered nurse who has worked in the care sector for many years, explained: “We have an ethos of fun here at Fernhill House. We want to ensure all our residents live their lives to the full and provide a wide, and often quite unexpected, range of activities, many of which are not standard care home fare. Gardening is obviously a well known and loved retirement activity – but we also have events such as cocktail gatherings, gym sessions and regular concerts.”