Concordia Retirement Living Residents Find Joy in Gardening

After an unusually long, cold and snowy winter in the northeastern part of the country, spring has arrived and gardening season is officially upon us. While gardening is a year-round activity, especially for those who live in warmer climates, the fresh blooms of the season and anticipation of new life evoke renewed feelings of happiness and joy.  

Gardeners and healthcare professionals agree – gardening is good for both the body and the mind. The activity promotes mobility and flexibility and provides enthusiasts of all ages the opportunity to get regular exercise. The exposure to Vitamin D and the intake of fresh air encourage the production and release of serotonin – a “feel-good” neurotransmitter that helps to regulate our mood, sleep and digestive system.

For two Concordia retirement living residents, the positive influence on one’s overall wellness is a bonus of gardening – it’s how the activity invokes a sense of community, activates special memories and inspires spiritual fulfillment that brings them the most joy.

Adding Beauty to Every Day in Florida

At 90 years old, Concordia Village of Tampa resident Joan Mayo gardens every day. Her passion for gardening comes from an impressionable experience she had as a child growing up in Georgia.

“My daddy’s mother, my grandmother, had a canna lily bed,” Joan said. “When I was four, she asked me if I’d like to help her weed the bed. I thought I was so grown up, and I’ve been hooked ever since!”

This experience would come full circle when Joan moved into Concordia Village of Tampa’s retirement living community close to five years ago.

“I had a friend who lived in another building, and when she looked out from her porch, she saw an unfinished flower bed. She said, ‘Joan, can we make this look better?’ And so, we put in a canna lily bed.”

Joan’s creativity and exceptional attentiveness to each component to what she grows are appreciated by her community. A newer resident chose her apartment solely to admire Joan’s flower bed while enjoying her morning coffee.  

“The lord has blessed me with good health, and gardening has provided me with a way to give back to those who can’t physically do this,” Joan said. “I’m grateful to share something beautiful with my neighbors.”   

Tending to God’s Creation in Ohio

Just over 1,000 miles north of Tampa, Concordia at Sumner (located in Copley, Ohio) resident Mona Bishop revels in the same delight for gardening.   

“There’s something about getting your hands in the dirt,” Mona said. “It’s like getting back to basics and has a lot to do with your love of the earth and God’s creation. There’s a spiritual element to it all.”

Mona was one of the first residents to move into Concordia at Sumner’s Garden Apartments East expansion building in 2019. For her, the beautiful grounds of the campus along with the terrific people – both staff and fellow residents alike – motivated her to choose Concordia.

“I looked at three retirement living communities, and the apartments here were so much nicer than the other locations,” Mona said. “Three other widows moved in around the same time as I and we instantly became best friends – it was like I’ve known them my entire life. I immediately felt right at home.”

A lifelong gardener whose thoughtful care of zinnias, a mainstay of the annual flower bed, attracted local fans (“passersby would stop to admire them!”) at her previous residence, Mona enjoys diversifying her garden.

“Last year was the first time I used a garden box at Concordia, and I grew tomatoes, marigolds, chives and basil.”

Herbs of all varieties have been a favorite of Mona’s to grow over the years and bring back fond memories.

“In one of our previous homes, my husband and I found the best spot to grow herbs,” she said. “We had a lot of sunshine, and I absolutely loved my herb garden. I would dry the herbs all over the house, and it smelled wonderful.”

As far as tips and reminders for both new and seasoned gardeners, the ladies agreed that an abundance of patience is key.

“It’s important to consider the sun and shade areas of your yard,” Mona said. “Aside from that, my advice is to have lots and lots of patience and just enjoy it!”

Joan echoed the same thought: “Plants have a mind of their own, and there’s lots of trial and error. Just be patient! Gardening is good for the soul.”

To learn more about our retirement communities in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Tampa, Florida call our headquarters at 724-352-1571 or visit the retirement living page of our website.

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