The smells of fresh herbs and flowers waft through the summer breeze, as hands reach into moist soil to nestle newly budding plants into a carefully tended flower bed. The pitter patter of water drops falls from tin watering cans onto bouncy leaves and thirsty florals, and bright colors and lush greens grow with vibrancy in the gardens at The Terraces of Boise. The gardens evoke responses and interactions from all of the five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell and taste – as seniors work together to nurture plant life. The community has multiple gardening areas, and residents of all levels of living enjoy time interacting in the outdoors. When flavorful herbs like chocolate mint, German thyme, basil and rosemary are plucked from the gardens, residents of The Terraces of Boise taste them and interact with them for a sensory experience. They also care for bright and colorful flowers. Gardening is engaging and therapeutic, which is why the weekly Shangri La Garden gardening activity on Thursdays at 3 p.m. has become so popular.
“It is truly amazing to see the deeply rooted connections residents have with nature while gardening,” said Debbi Evans, lifestyles director at The Terraces of Boise. “We are pleased that the weekly gardening activity for all levels of living has been so well received. On Thursdays, residents in independent living come to work side by side with assisted living and memory support residents on special gardening projects. Throughout the week, memory support and assisted living residents have smaller gardening tasks for tending to the daily needs of the plants. Residents living in independent living have their own garden as well where they grow delicious vegetables. The benefits of gardening can be experienced by people of all ages.”
Some of the benefits of gardening include stress reduction, lowered risk for dementia, a strengthening of the immune system, reduction in the risk of strokes, heart disease and other life threatening diseases, burning calories and getting moderate exercise, and decrease the likelihood of osteoporosis. The gardens also provide a place for meditation and increased mental clarity, which can improve mood and impact the happiness of residents, connecting people with nature and each other, improving relationships and providing meaning for daily living.
“We have a lot of fun trying to grow new things,” said Jud Severns, executive director of The Terraces of Boise. “It’s a creative space, it’s a place of Zen and tranquility, and it’s a space for trying new things and making connections. We are all excited to harvest the garden and reap the rewards of what we have been sowing.”