Life Care Center of Sparta shows off beautiful flower gardens

By | September 24, 2018 8:18 am

Some of the residents at Life Care Center of Sparta enjoy working in the flower gardens that have become a part of their daily activities. Standing, L-R: Mary England, resident at Life Care, and Heather Stiles, activities director; seated, Leah Currey, resident (Photo by RIMA AUSTIN)

The colors of the plants were vibrant against the somber green of the raised flowerpots that circled the stone center of the courtyard of the assisted living housing area within Life Care Center of Sparta.

The deep reds of the coleus and pinks of the petunias were a stark contrast to the pots and the lighter green of the meticulously cut grass. Grey and white tamed rabbits hopped through the grass leisurely.

“We have begonias, vincas, petunias, and double impatiens, but the coleus is my favorite,” said Heather Stiles, director of activities at Life Care. “You’ll find a lot of these in your grandmother’s garden. You can plant it and then cut off the tops and give them to a friend. It’s like a friendship plant.”

Baby boomers who are retiring may try to live in their homes for as long as possible. For some individuals, however, that may not be an option. This is where assisted living facilities become an obvious choice. These are not the retirement homes of the past but have become vibrant communities with activities and gardens.

“They give us a list of flowers that they want,” said Stiles. “We go and do the shopping. They are fully responsible for everything, from watering them to pulling the weeds.”

Stiles is adept in planning a full day for the residents who live at the center, one of the most popular being gardening. She stated there is also a raised bed vegetable garden on the other side of the facility as well. Stiles said they do serve the residents these vegetables but not as part of the dietary plan.

Mary England, 88, and Leah Currey, 86, are both residents of the assisted living facility at Life Care. They explain the different varieties of plants and what they need to grow. England, who is a master gardener, explained what her title means.

“The master gardeners are for people who want to learn more about gardening, flowers, and landscaping,” said England. “Dr. [Charles] Mitchell and I took a course sponsored by the University of Tennessee, and we traveled all over the place. That was about 12 to 14 years ago.”

Mitchell is also a resident at Life Care.

Currey stated she is not a master gardener, but her experience took a more traditional route growing up.

“I’m from Nashville, Tennessee, by way of west Tennessee,” said Currey. “I’m a farmer.”

England and Currey said they derive a lot of pleasure from the flower garden. Currey stated she is looking forward to the day she can get out of the wheelchair so she can be of more help to England in the garden.

“They’re going to put me a water line in here next year so I don’t have to carry two buckets out here,” said England. “My back won’t let me do it too much longer.”

Stiles went on to say that activities such as gardening and programs that feature real-life situations are offered to keep the residents’ minds stimulated.

“Gardening is just one of the things we do that focuses on each level of cognition,” said Stiles. “This has really taken off over here because of their initiative and their love for [it]. This keeps them active and makes them feel as though they are contributing to their community and their own lives, which instills dignity and helps them.”

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