Gardeners at Applewood Reap Multiple Health Benefits

Gardeners at Applewood Reap Multiple Health Benefits

Growing a garden proven to be beneficial for senior body, mind and soul



Take a stroll through our beautiful community and you’ll see resident cottage homes, terraces and patios filled with colorful shrubs, plants and seasonal flowers. But some residents take their gardens to a whole new level and plant rows of heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, cukes, peppers, berries and onions.

Besides looking great and reaping fresh-off-the-vine foods to enjoy, gardening also offers a plethora of health benefits.

Scientific studies have proven that getting your hands dirty in the soil–even container gardening–has been linked to increased bone density because of increased vitamin D absorption.

In addition, senior gardeners also report improved sleep cycles, heightened mental clarity, lower levels of chronic pain and even improved balance—leading to fewer falls, which can debilitate seniors, even those in good health.

Bill Henckel – Taking Cottage Gardening to the Next Level


“One of the best things about my garden is having so many fresh vegetables to share with my neighbors,” says Bill Henckel, who has curated an impressive vegetable and flower garden around his cottage home since 2010. This year, he cultivated heirloom tomatoes, more than 40 cucumbers, 12 large zucchini and a dozen peppers. And that’s just the backyard.

When you pull up to Bill’s home, you’ll see a tidy presentation of several types of roses surrounded by an impressive variety of annuals and perennials.

Bill says he developed a love for gardening from his grandmother, who tended her own garden and lived to be 104-years-old. “There’s definitely something about gardening that makes you feel good, much in the same way as exercising.”

Mr. Henckel’s assessment is spot-on. Horticultural therapy is linked to alleviating depression, decreasing anxiety, boosting a person’s sense of stability and control. Dementia patients, in particular, showed less aggression with regular access to gardening.

There’s still plenty of time to create your own garden space, whether you plant decorative planters using early fall flowers or carve out your own space in the yard.



Start small. While the excitement of planting a new garden can be thrilling, it’s also a lot of work and maintenance. Start with a few planters or a smaller plot of land and expand it each season or year.

  • Try some vegetables, fruits (strawberries and pumpkins are especially hearty here in New Jersey) and fragrant herbs. You can find small plants in most garden centers.
  • Place a small bench or chair in a shady spot nearby, so you can savor your hard work.
  • Commit to spending a few minutes each day in your garden. Even in small doses, the fresh air, vitamin D and bending and stretching feels great.
  • Make gardening a family affair—ask grandchildren to help pull weeks and adults to trim shrubs and dig-in larger plants or trees.
  • Don’t break your back doing too much in one day. Pace yourself or ask for a hand with the major digging and heavy lifting.




Live Life Beautifully at Applewood

Our active continuing care retirement community (CCRC) is a safe and vivacious place to call home. Retirement living is a gift to be enjoyed after decades of hard work. We hope you’ll consider living life well at Applewood, located minutes from the Jersey Shore and about an hour from New York City and Philadelphia. Call (732) 303-7416 to schedule your personal visit or attend one of our upcoming special events.