RESIDENTS at Charters Village have all got gardens to be hugely proud of….
The seven acres of village grounds have been transformed into immaculately managed lawns, shrubs, hanging baskets, bedding plants, a wildflower meadow and stunning rhododendron drive. The woman behind the transformation is East Grinstead mum of two Sharon O’Leary – who is head gardener at the retirement village.
Sharon (46), whose husband Steven is head gardener at Lingfield Park, has created a wildflower meadow to attract butterflies, finches, grasshoppers and frogs and cut walkways for residents to feel close to nature. But there are more formal gardens and borders to tend, plus a large games lawn that resembles Wembley Stadium!
“We were involved at the building stage back in the autumn of 2013 and have worked hard to gradually stock the gardens and improve them year on year,” said Sharon, who works with her full-time assistant Chris Love.
“What is now the wildflower meadow used to be the old school sports field. I don’t think the ex pupils would recognise the place now.”
“We planted 5,000 bulbs last autumn and are planning to plant 5,000 more. That guarantees a beautiful spring display of daffodils and tulips,” added Sharon.
She has also been instrumental in developing a dementia garden at the nearby Charters Court residential care home with raised troughs, a chicken run, bird tables, feeders, a potting bench, wind chimes and more traditional planting to remind residents of their younger days.
Sharon is now working on plans to develop the formal gardens of phase two at Charters Village. Retirement Villages are building 46 more one and two bedroom apartments and three bungalows to meet demand for this popular lifestyle. The village was voted best retirement development in the UK last year.