How do delightful surroundings enhance environmental wellness in senior living communities? We asked Andy Howland for insights.
As Director of Enhancements & Landscape at Friendship Village of Dublin, he creates inspiring views from every angle of our 29-acre campus.
“I try to create stimulating views that change through the seasons, which encourages exploring and revisiting,” he said.
“As we walk through the property, our residents, associates and visitors will find fresh surprises, new inspirations and scenes that trigger memories.”
For example, he and the Landscaping Team received 8,700 flowering annual plants in May. They spent about a week installing the plants to add summer color and textures in beds throughout the campus.
Defining Environmental Wellness
As a developing concept, environmental wellness means different things to different professionals.
In its Environmental Wellness Toolkit, the National Institutes of Health focuses on how environments affect health and safety.
The University of California at Davis says environmental wellness inspires a healthy lifestyle, including respecting the environment and living in harmony with nature.
At Friendship Village of Dublin, we support both concepts, providing a healthy lifestyle with lots of opportunities to interact with nature.
In fact, environment wellness is just one of nine dimensions of wellness we call The Village Way. This holistic approach to living helps our residents live their best lives at every age.
“Our environment relates to the physical, social, emotional, spiritual, vocational, nutritional and intellectual dimensions of wellness,” Andy said. “Everything supports everything else.”
Residents Dig Our Gardens
Our North and South Resident Gardens feature over 50 five- by ten-foot raised garden beds.
“These Resident Gardens have become an enormous hit,” Andy said.
“We start the sign-up process just after the first of the year. Within a week, they’re full.”
Each bed may have multiple gardeners, who choose to grow whatever they like – flowering annuals, vegetables and herbs. Gardeners can choose to use their flowers and produce or allow other residents to share in the bounty.
Andy coaches Resident Gardeners in choosing and tending plants.
“We want our garden beds to be as diverse as possible,” he said. “Though everybody wants to plant a tomato!”
“We encourage our gardeners to have fun and experiment,” he added. “We also let them know that, with gardening and weather, we will have occasional failures. And that’s okay.”
The diverse plantings attract birds, bees and butterflies, giving residents opportunities to interact with nature – a key aspect of environmental wellness.
“Last summer, you almost couldn’t walk through the North Garden without getting hit by a butterfly!”
He noted the gardens include food sources for Monarch butterflies, which have seen declining populations in recent years.
Aesthetic Views Support Emotional Wellness
“There’s nothing like an incredible view to lift the spirits,” Andy said.
“Desirable views make a tremendous difference for those who live and work here.”
“Residents and colleagues say walking our grounds or viewing gardens from their windows gives them a positive outlook,” he added.
He said landscaping affects everyone who visits the campus.
“When our annuals and perennials are in full bloom, everyone I see outdoors or coming inside has a smile on their face. And that contributes to emotional wellness.”
Seasonal Views Support Year-Round Environmental Wellness
Although gardens and landscaping reach their peak in warm summer months, Andy emphasizes attractive year-round views in his landscape design.
“Diversity in our plantings is key to creating year-round interest,” he said.
Perennial flowers, deciduous trees and ornamental grasses provide color and texture through October. Fall cleanup requires removing browned perennials and dropped leaves.
“In winter and early spring, aesthetic views depend upon the shapes of the beds and ornamental characteristics of grasses, trees and shrubs,” Andy said.
“Especially from the fourth or fifth floors of our buildings, how we organize the shapes and proportions of the beds adds interest,” he said.
“We choose trees and shrubs for interesting bark and growth habit,” he said. “We also leave ornamental grasses until they become too messy.”
Shrubs like witch hazel bloom in late February, followed by Lenten roses in March. By April, crab apples and spring bulbs are blossoming.
The following month, the Landscape Team prepares to receive another shipment of thousands of flowering annuals.
Landscaping is a lot more than just planting annuals, raking leaves and pushing snow,” Andy said. “We are creating a vibrant setting for everyone who lives, works and visits to enjoy.
“Creating that setting is probably the most important thing I do here.”
To learn more about Andy’s approach to the art of landscaping, check out Going Green: Gardening and Landscaping with Andy Howland.
Are You Living Your Best Life?
If you’re looking for an active senior community that emphasizes health and fun, you owe it to yourself to explore our premier LifeCare community.
You’re invited to schedule a safe, socially distanced visit to learn about all we offer!
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