Celebrity Gardener Joe Swift Opens Maplewood Court’s Wildlife Garden
Celebrity gardener, Joe Swift, joined residents and families to officially open our Maplewood Court wildlife garden in Maidstone.
Joe, who’s best known for his appearances on BBC Gardeners’ World, cut the ribbon to the bespoke green space. The designer and plantsman was impressed with both the size and design of the garden, praising the staff on its carefully planned features to encourage a range of wildlife.
“I’m very proud to open this garden,” Joe said. “It’s a beautiful space with winding paths to allow residents to explore all of the different areas. Wildlife will really be able to flourish in this garden because of the elements of water, food and shelter that have been built into its design.”
The garden has been gradually transformed from a bare piece of land at the back of the purpose-built home, which offers all-inclusive residential, nursing, memory and respite care, into a wildlife-friendly space with the help of Kent Wildlife Trust and grant funding from Low Carbon Kent. Residents have given their input into the design and contributed plants from their family gardens.
Oakland Care is the UK’s only certified carbon-neutral care home group. Maplewood Court also has an ‘excellent’ BREEAM rating, a scheme that assesses a building’s sustainability and environmental credentials. Aaron White, Head of Business and Sustainability, was thrilled to see this important project come to life. “We’ve put a huge amount of planning into this space and it is amazing to see it now ready to be enjoyed by our residents, their families and the community,” he said.
“We are very grateful to Joe for coming to open our garden and it was a privilege for me to show him what we’ve created. We have a pond, untouched ‘wild’ areas and highways for hedgehogs so they can pass through our garden which is essential for their breeding. Our small orchard will, in years to come, give us fruit, create shade and attract birds and our bug hotel is made from recycled materials such as building pallets. We have composting areas and the plants we’ve used have been chosen both for attracting insects and the sensory experience they offer our residents.”
As well as being an engaging and relaxing space for the home’s residents, with wheelchair-friendly paths, the garden is also open to children from local schools to use for nature projects. “It was heartening to see the thought that had gone into its design and planting so that all generations can experience those ‘wow’ moments when wildlife comes to visit,” said Anita Makey, headteacher at Hunton CE Primary School. “What a wonderful idea to share your garden by inviting local schools and youth groups to bug hunt and pond dip. “I am sure that both the younger and older generations will benefit from opportunities like this to boost communication and confidence and, of course, put smiles on everyone’s faces.”
Joe Swift spent the afternoon exploring the garden and chatting with residents and families over afternoon tea. He held a gardening Q&A and a bulb-planting workshop, explaining his ‘bulb lasagne’ method that will give residents multi-layered colour in time for spring.
Resident, Rosemary Kelly, 86, thoroughly enjoyed the event and is already benefitting from the garden. “I’m so pleased that we have a wildlife garden at Maplewood Court,” she said. “I love all the herbs, and I can identify most of them as I used to have them in my own garden at home. We can walk easily through it and I’m lucky to enjoy it from the comfort of my own armchair as my room is just opposite. What a delight!”
Home Manager, Joanna Mazza, said the garden will offer residents so many benefits. “This garden isn’t just a wildlife haven, it’s a space where residents like Christine can continue their love of gardening, they can use it as a space for exercise, for bird-watching or as inspiration for art, or just somewhere to sit enjoy the plants. We all know the benefits of being outside in nature and to have this right outside our door is wonderful. It’s an area that will only get better and offer our residents and their families more as it grows.”
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