Helping Out Mavis With Her Vegetable Patch

Winter Can Be Tough For The Elderly

Now that Daylight Savings have come into effect, the days can feel like they flash by in an instant.


For the elderly, who live alone, this can be a grim dark time of year – this is why I like to dedicate a few hours each week to keeping my local OAP gardeners company.

When I first started out with Delphinium, some 10 years or so ago, I struggled to get hold of much design work. Having spent so long in the Science Industry, it might come as little surprise that the people of Leeds were a little uneasy about handing me creative control over their gardens – so I had to make do with some basic gardening work at first.

back-yard-gardenEveryone has to pay their dues, I suppose.

The first piece of regular work I picked up was for Mavis. 10 years ago she was a little more spritely, at 65, but still needed help keeping her unruly garden in order. Packed full of creeping vines, weeds and flower beds (that were crossing all sorts of boundaries) – her little yard was abundant with life, but had become too much for her to handle.

I spent that first summer struggling to find work and spending too much time in Mavis’ back garden.

She’s what my Father would have called ‘a strange old bird’. Fiercely independent, yet also wholly reliant on the company of others – Mavis had led a a sociable and active retirement up until the Winter of 2006 – when she broke her hip falling down the stairs. That’s when she enlisted me to sort her garden out and, essentially, keep her company.

Gardening is one of those fantastic hobbies that can entertain people of all ages.

From the very young, to those reaching the twilight of their years, simple tasks such as tilling or mulching can provide comfort and a sense of purpose to those looking for it – without exhausting the individual. This is all well and good in the balmy summer months, however, as winter approaches and the plants that you have nurtured throughout the warmer months begin to die, it can be hard to motivate these wonderful people to go back out into the garden.

yardMavis simply needed someone to get her out of the house a few times a week and sort out her flower bed for next spring.

Every week I’d let myself in round the back and tap on her window – within seconds, she’d be outside wrapped up in several layers of wool, with a mug of tea in her hand for me. I’d dig the weeds and rip the vines out of the stubborn soil, whilst she would collect the off-cuts and bag them up for the bin.

Mavis recommended my services to her friends, which eventually led to me getting my first design job – for that I will be eternally grateful.

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