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No-fuss gardening

Gardeners enjoy easy options at Novi community

Created date

May 22nd, 2012

Mary Ellen Shaughnessy says she s been a gardener for just about as long as she can remember. As a young girl, she would help her father with his gardening, and as an adult she tended to annuals and perennials of her own. About seven years ago, Mary Ellen moved with her husband Gerald from a house in Livonia, Mich., where she had her own garden, to Fox Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi. Now Mary Ellen has the largest backyard of her lifetime Fox Run s sprawling landscaped grounds that come alive with colorful flowers in the spring and summer.

Volunteer gardening

Fox Run does have individual gardens available for those who want to plant and maintain their own vegetables and flowers. However, when Mary Ellen moved to Fox Run, she had decided she no longer wanted to dedicate the time and physical energy required to maintain her own large garden, which can be quite demanding. Gardening is hard work, she says. Yet, she also didn t want to give up her hobby altogether. Luckily, she found the perfect way to exercise her green thumb without having to take on back-breaking tasks like planting bulbs and tilling soil. Three years ago, Mary Ellen approached the staff at Fox Run with an idea. She proposed that she and other residents who wanted to do some light gardening would pitch in to help maintain the community s spacious grounds. The staff liked the idea, so Mary Ellen and 11 other residents started volunteer gardening. In three years, the group has doubled in size to about 25 gardeners. A lot of these people were gardeners before but aren t part of [Fox Run s] garden club, Mary Ellen says. Club members plan and maintain their own gardens. This is a way for us to still have our hands in gardening. Each member of the campus garden volunteers group adopts a certain area on campus and helps to maintain that section, Mary Ellen says. Some people water potted plants. Others do some light weeding. Several people pitch in to pull the dead blossoms off of the many day lilies and hostas growing all over the campus. In addition to the many flower gardens, Fox Run is also home to two butterfly gardens, which the campus garden volunteers also help to maintain. We re keeping the campus looking beautiful, and we feel like we re contributing to the community, Mary Ellen says of the team of garden volunteers she has organized. And, I think staff really appreciates our help.

Her own private oasis

While Mary Ellen didn t want to maintain a large garden as part of the community s official garden club, she has created her own floral sanctuary outside her home. She lives in a ground-floor apartment home with a patio, and with the staff s stamp of approval she was able to plant her own perennials right outside her sliding doors. During the warm months, she and her husband can relax on their patio and admire not only their own flowers but also the blooms sprouting all over Fox Run s lush grounds. Their two-bedroom Harrison-style apartment home is great for indoor planting because it is a corner home, with plenty of natural light coming from multiple directions. The favorite flower of this lifelong gardener? Mary Ellen says it s too difficult to choose just one. It depends on the season and what is in bloom, she laughs.