Salad days for green-fingered care home residents

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Pendine Park, Summerhill, Wrexham Residents have been painting pots and planting on tomatoes with head gardener Andrew Jones as part of British Tomatoes Fortnight. Pictured - Lia Thomas, Tracey Wilde, Stephen Roberts, Josh Ebbutt, Tony Ithell with head gardener Andrew Jones.

Green fingered care home residents at a Wrexham care home are growing their own fruit and veg.

Residents at Pendine Park’s Penybryn and Bryn Bella homes have formed their own gardening club and are hoping for a bumper crop despite the wash out of the May weather.

The project is being led by horticultural expert Andrew Jones who has been helping them cultivate a delicious array of summer salad ingredients so they can enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Andrew is head gardener with Pendine Park which has seven care homes in Wrexham and another, Bryn Seiont Newydd, in Caernarfon.

He enjoys overseeing the gardening club and is delighted to be running it again after its activities had to be suspended due to the lockdown restrictions of the pandemic.

Pendine Park artist in residence Sarah Edwards said residents had missed the club which is often combined with arts and crafts classes.

She said: “Today, as well as planting young tomatoes into bigger pots, our residents have also been painting plant pots in an array of colourful patterns and colours to make them more vibrant.

“Despite this year’s unpredictable weather it is great to have the gardening club up and running again albeit with social distancing restrictions still in place and protective masks on. The chance to get outside a little and back in touch with the world of nature is uplifting for us all.”

Resident Tony Ithell enjoys gardening and said he greatly missed the gardening club when it wasn’t in action.

“It made me sad not to be able to help as much with the planting,” he said.

Fellow resident Tracey Wilde added that she can’t wait for their hard work to result in a good crop of salad vegetables.

She said: “I love all summer vegetables, they are so fresh and juicy. The only ones I don’t like are courgettes.”

Andrew said the best way to eat summer tomatoes is picked just after they have been ripened by the sun, straight from the plant when their flavour is unbeatable.

“Perfect”, he said. “It is one of the best flavours in the world.”

Resident Lia Thomas laughed: “I don’t like tomatoes. But I’ve really enjoyed painting these plant pots in all sorts of different colours.”

She is looking forward to harvesting the new potatoes which the group are also growing ready to dig up later in the summer.

Andrew added: “We have had some lovely crops of new potatoes here in past years, great hot with melted butter on.”

Andrew has been with Pendine Park seven years and enjoys it immensely.

He heads up a professional team of four gardeners tending the nine acres grounds of Pendine Park’s Summerhill-based homes as well as looking after the gardens at the organisation’s sister home, Gwern Alyn and Hillbury on the other side of Wrexham.

He said: “Not only are the grounds a pleasure to work on but I do enjoy the chance to chat with the residents and get their take on the gardens, discover what they like and don’t like about raising plants and growing in general.

“I have even learned one or two cultivation tips from them as well as the other way round! It’s been a real pleasure for me leading our little gardening club over the years. I am glad it is back.”