Making Garden Connections

Nathalie and Tim are both keen gardeners who met each other at the Innermost Gardens in Mount Victoria recently: she gardens to keep active while he volunteers at the community garden.

Gardeners thrive on getting their hands dirty and communicating with nature. They also enjoy getting together to explore other gardens and communicating with each other for advice, tips and new ideas.

Recently Age Concern Wellington Region (ACWR) and Wellington City Council organised an outing for ACWR participants to visit the Innermost Community Gardens. The sizeable group that turned up shows that interest in gardens is still there among seniors.

Nathalie made an early start to travel in from Upper Hutt. She told Stephen Opie (CEO of ACWR) she never knew the Innermost Gardens existed and was delighted not only to discover it, but also to see and experience the enthusiasm of all those volunteers who looked after the complex. She also learned some new gardening tips.

Tim explains how they’re growing mushrooms in buckets

Although she lives in a retirement village, she has access to two small gardens and keeps active growing vegetables for herself and donating any excess to the food bank or sharing with her neighbours.

Nathalie expressed her delight in learning new gardening techniques on the tour, especially learning from others how to do things better.

But the learning wasn’t a one-way street. Volunteer Tim, who has been volunteering at Innermost Gardens for 15 years, admitted that he enjoyed drawing on the wisdom and experience of the members of the tour group.

He thinks community gardens are amazingly important, and visits by members of the community were an added extra as they brought people together and improved intergenerational communication. “I had conversations today with people who have more years of experience than me growing a lemon tree, or things like that. Community gardens are a way of bringing generations back together. People connect on their own terms with so many different people they wouldn’t normally connect with anywhere else.”

Community gardens attract a wide range of volunteers. There are ‘weekend gardeners’ who work during the week and like to get out in natural surroundings in the weekend. The ‘midweeks’ are generally retirees and more senior gardeners. In addition, there are calls for volunteers for special projects which attract members from both those groups and outsiders. However, as Tim says, there is constant communication between all of them.

The group finished with light snacks and refreshments on this perfectly warm and calm Saturday morning.

Tours such as these are just some of the varied activities arranged by ACWR for the older members of the Wellington community. Go to for more information.


~ Mick Calder

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