Wilma’s in full bloom
By getting the help she needs to stay active, Wilma Mitchell, 88, can continue to tend the beautiful garden at her home in Victoria.
When Wilma moved into her current home, the garden was an overgrown mess. She was daunted – but determined – to turn it into something beautiful.
“There were Pelargonium roots half way to the door and I had to dig those out with the help of a friend before I could even get started,” she told us.
Wandering through Wilma’s garden three years on, it becomes clear an extraordinary transformation has taken place in a very short time. Wilma proudly displays her vibrant mix of beautiful flowers, herbs and even the odd strawberry plant.
Yet it’s no surprise that Wilma has turned this garden around so swiftly. She grew up with plants. She left school at 15 and took up a position as a florist in a nearby town. “I got paid 12/6 a week and the bus fare was 15d,” she recalls.
Wilma stayed working in floristry until she was 21. After leaving her job, she enjoyed hobbies like floral art and tending the fruit trees and other plants at her home.
Her love affair with gardening has only gotten stronger. But today things could be very different for Wilma – and her garden – if not for the weekly help she receives from her Home Care Worker, Andrea.
You see, Wilma is still remarkably fit and active for her age but, edging towards 90- years-old, she is losing muscle strength and getting frailer. This puts her at a much greater risk of a fall in the garden. She also finds it harder to prune the highest branches and bend down to reach into the furthest corners of her garden to dig out weeds – vital jobs when maintaining a garden.
Wilma knows an accident or injury from gardening could take her away from her plants for months – or even forever – which would be devastating.
That is one of the reasons KinCare began visiting Wilma several times each week. She has given her the practical support and encouragement to get out in her sunny garden and keep her hands in the dirt.
There is no better feeling for Wilma than having the confidence to be in her garden, enjoying sun, exercise, and a sense of achievement and companionship with friends and family with the help of Andrea.
She has grown all sorts in her small plot: cornflowers, sweet potato, garlic, parsley, capsicum, roses; however, her most revered plant is the incredible pink hibiscus plant towering over them all.
“I leaned over the neighbour’s fence and pinched a cutting of about five inches,” she told us laughing. “It’s now four to five metres tall and actually touches the spouting of the house. I call it my love and joy.”
“Its hard work but you can go out there in a low mood and it just dissolves all of that. I also like that you achieve what you hope you’re going to see – if you put in the work.”
Wilma is also thrilled to get to share her gardening know-how and stories from her floristry days with her KinCare Home Care Worker Andrea.
“Wilma gives me so many wonderful tips for my garden,” says Andrea. “It is such a pleasure to walk through her garden together and stop here and there to prune a plant or cut some flowers for her kitchen table.”
Gardening has always been an important part of Wilma’s life. Having that extra help from KinCare makes her feel so happy and calm as she knows she will likely continue to live the outdoor life she adores well into the future.
“I love everything about gardening,” Wilma told us. “Its hard work but you can go out there in a low mood and it just dissolves all of that. I also like that you achieve what you hope you’re going to see – if you put in the work.”
Obviously, not all of us have fingers as green as Wilma’s, so before she said goodbye she was happy to share her top tip for creating a garden as gorgeous as hers.
“You’ve got to look after your soil,” she told us. “And water everything properly. Each plant needs different care – you should never water the bark of a citrus tree for example. Even when we had a big drought here one year, I’ve never lost any of my plants.”