Gardening doesn’t have to be a go-it-alone hobby. For Sherine Hazelden, it’s very much a joint project – and a chance to pass on a lifetime of experience and knowledge.
At 70, Sherine spends part of her week sharing the pleasures of gardening with younger generations by volunteering at the local primary school, encouraging students to take an active interest in everything from composting to growing edible plants they can share with their families.
It’s about gentle encouragement. I never push too hard. I just see what the kids enjoy and then we head in that direction – like picking olives from the school’s olive tree, she says.
Sherine believes the best kind of outdoor living happens in the garden, saying it’s "a great way to stay fit and positive about life".
The more you do the more you can do. It’s practical and spiritual and such a release – it’s easy to lose track of time, she says.
Often I think I’ve been in the garden for an hour and suddenly four hours has gone by and I’m still at it. There’s no more pleasurable way to pass the day.
Gardening is one of the most rewarding things you can do without leaving home. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you do, or whether you have a big garden or a few potted plants on your terrace – you don’t need a lot of space for a great garden.
Sherine doesn’t just share her knowledge with her local school, she shares her produce with her neighbours. She often puts bunches of herbs on her nature strip for passers-by to help themselves.
It’s a nice way to get acquainted with people you otherwise wouldn’t meet, she says.
Another great way is by joining your local community garden. These are places where people of all ages and different cultures come together to tend their plots and chat.
Tips for ageing gardeners
I’m 70 now so I don’t do as much strenuous gardening as I once did. I’m hoping to be just like my mother who was still gardening when she was 90, Sherine says.
Mum had many tips and tricks that she learnt over decades as a gardener, such as growing her plants in pots because they don’t need you to bend down as far to plant, weed and water.
She also made it easier for herself to water by using a jug rather than a heavy watering can and, as she got older, changed from growing vegetables like tomatoes to flowers that she could enjoy without putting in as much work.
How to make a home-grown kneeling pad
Sherine uses recycled 5kg rice bags stuffed with old sheets and plastic bags then zipped up at the end. Sustainable, cheap and convenient.
And it doesn't even matter if you forgot to bring them inside for the day, she says.