Downsizing offers an interesting view of life.

While many are relieved to be free of the family’s high maintenance garden, for instance, they often miss just pottering around.

`Pottering’ is almost an accredited health activity. It’s a stress buster and soaks up the all-important Vitamin D, which is excellent for your bones, your mood and your immune system, according to the health authorities. 

There’s also a simple joy to be experienced in planting seeds in the soil and watching the first sprouts of a tree or a bush break through the earth. Nature’s conjuring act, rivals even the most sophisticated magicians’ tricks.

Thankfully many over 50s communities are set in bushland, surrounded by lush gardens with communal vegetable plots and back yards for the residents.

Nothing beats tending to your green pocket. This is one of the reasons why even a courtyard space should be on your checklist when it comes to looking for a new home.  Or a balcony with lots of sunlight streaming through.


Do you go for the stunning view or the garden? Take both.

A residence with panoramic district or water views can be a compelling choice for your new home. But it doesn’t mean that you have to throw away your well used spades and diggers. You can create a green sanctuary up there as well with a little planning.

For inspiration, look to author, journalist and TV presenter, Indira Naidoo, who’s also famous as a champion of vertical gardens.

Indira lived in a 20 metre square apartment on the 13th floor of an inner city apartment block with a pocket sized balcony but she still managed to create a flourishing garden with very little horticultural expertise.

“In my first year I grew 70 kilograms of produce, including lemons, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, chilies, peppers, carrots, radishes, blueberries and strawberries,” she said. “If I can do it, you can too.”



A post shared by Indira Naidoo (@dearindira)


Before you buy, investigate your gardening options

Indira recommends checking first with the body corporate or strata committee about building any structures to support plants on your balcony and then perhaps budgeting for a landscape gardener to work out the best approach. You also need to be up to date on how to save your green space from marauding pests. 

But it’s not only about producing vegetables and herbs. You may wish to rise each morning and smell the roses or peer at the world through palm fronds. Everything is possible.

This is the time to get creative with 70s-style hanging baskets and fibreglass pots on wheeled stands, so as not to put strain on your back. Also ensure there’s an outlet for a hose, as you don’t want to be lugging watering cans around. And while you’re creating your gardening area don’t forget to purchase a folding gardening stool, gloves and a shady hat.


Imagine dining out in your own bower 

A terrace garden may also afford you privacy and provide a fitting backdrop to summery dinners and lunches outside, even breakfasts. It’s also about your quality of life or, as they say in the movie, The Castle: `How’s the serenity?’


Other gardening options

If it’s not possible to have a courtyard or balcony garden, there’s still lots of options open to you when it comes to embracing nature. 

The Anglicare Oran Park Village is just one of the many over 50s developments, which has a community garden. It’s quite lavish and offers a great variety of vegetables and fruits which are offered to the residents during a weekly morning tea. However, volunteers are always needed to ensure that the garden is at its best. A bonus here is that Oran Park, on the outskirts of Sydney, has fresh country air, which makes it seem even more bucolic.

Lots of suburbs also have community gardens, which can be located through Council listings. You could join a working bee, which is also an excellent way of socialising, especially if you’re new to the area.


Volunteering At The Botanic Gardens

Australia surely has some of the world’s most spectacular botanical gardens and they attract and train, an army of plant loving volunteers. Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens, lapped by the crystal blue harbour, relies on volunteers to assist with the scientific, horticultural and conservation work of the Gardens. They also lead guided walks, enhancing the visitor experience by providing information and orientation. It’s an excellent way of engaging with people who have arrived from all over the world -a true multi-cultural, green  experience.


Take a gardening tour

Indulge your passion for the beauty of nature with a gardening tour. There’s several operators in this space including Ross Gardening Tours, founded by Sandra and Graham Ross, AM -an award winning horticulturist and a regular presenter on TV’s Better Homes & Gardens.

Ross Gardening Tours includes such highlights as Jacaranda Cruises, Tasmania in Springtime and Gardens of New England & The South Coast. It’s a brilliant way to have your fill of wandering around stunning gardens without having to cultivate them yourself.. (ends). 


Indira Naidoo’s Vertical Garden Checklist:

  • How much space do I have?
  • What’s my budget?
  • Is the space internal or external?
  • How much light does the area receive?
  • Green walls can be challenged by high winds so check your wind conditions.
  • Do I want a contemporary or a rustic look?
  • What plants do I want to grow – ornamental or edible?
  • Does it need to be self-watering?