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The yellow begonias are Elaine's favourite.

A mountain ash will be an additional attraction for the birds.

Jack's row of begonias – there are 75 of them. "We cut back from last year's 80," he says.

But as lovely as the apartment is,

the main attraction for the Sines is the garden. Jack’s begonias are just one of its features. The whole yard is filled with flowers, courtesy of about a dozen resi- dents – the Garden Group – who go out every spring and buy the flowers from a local garden centre. Some of those who don’t garden contribute to the flower fund and those who can spend an after- noon planting their purchase in soil and pots provided by the residence. Staff members pitch in with the

potted gardens, watering the contain- ers that get neglected and encouraging everyone to get involved in some activ- ity. Residents can participate as much as they want. “The people are so lovely,” says Elaine.

“The staff here are the ones who make this place feel like home – everyone is so helpful and friendly.” Elaine also likes that she can cook in her apartment’s full kitchen or come downstairs to the

Some of the garden group's container plants decorating the deck and walkway.

welcoming restaurant, which is cleverly designed to provide private dining areas in little “rooms” that make the whole experience more intimate. But back to the garden, where Dan

Cassils, the “Engage Life” co-ordinator (who is also the chief garden guru and has been with the building 20 years), created the main feature: a waterway and pond. He dug the whole thing by hand, taking advantage of a natural slope. He lined it with fieldstone and planted wild bulrushes in pots in the pond for a natural effect. The trick- ling water attracts many birds. Jack has contributed a number of birdfeeders and keeps them filled to make sure that there is lots of activity all year long. “Jack and I get in there every once

in a while,” Dan says pointing to the pond, “and pull out the weeds, but we don’t mind if a few get away on us. It makes in more interesting.” He nods in the direction of a little clump of foxtail

waving on an island on the waterway. The well-manicured lawn slopes down

towards the creek which is surrounded by natural grasses and reeds through which waterfowl families make their way in springtime. “We had a row of geese last night,” says Jack with some delight. “And we’ve had ducks and their ducklings, too,” adds Elaine. Jack and the building manager plant-

ed four trees this past year to provide a little more shade for the future and a beautiful mountain ash is already putting out berries to feed the birds all winter. Residents will be able to watch them from the dining room windows. Over all there is a sense of serenity

and family. The residents range from just past middle age to well into their 80s and 90s – it is a retirement resi- dence, not a nursing home, although there is homecare on site – and accord- ing to Jack and Elaine, it’s almost like living in a resort hotel. K

Beautiful Gardens 2015 • 17

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