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Green-fingered Ken makes Care Plus courtyard bloom

A resident of a retirement living community managed by Care Plus has been hailed a neighbourhood hero after he spent weeks transforming a shared courtyard into a productive garden filled with flowers, vegetables and fruit.

During lockdown, Ken Smith immediately offered to shop for neighbouring residents of the retirement apartments and bungalows in a village near Wolverhampton. He soon found other ways to help, too, walking a dog for an owner who was shielding and becoming a lifeline for people living alone.

At the start of this year Ken spotted the potential for a paved courtyard to become a colourful outdoor space where residents could start to get together again, safely. He designed a plan for a new garden and neighbours chipped-in to buy plants and equipment.

Now, the residents’ garden is filled with colour from hanging baskets and planted containers. Space has been found for fruit trees, herbs and vegetable plants and there is a new barbecue along with a greenhouse for chillies and tomatoes.

“It’s been a lot of work but people got involved in the project, helping me to weed and keep the area looking its best and giving our garden furniture a bright new facelift,” says Ken. “The cold spring meant that we had a slow start but the garden is really starting to take shape now and it’s lovely to see people enjoying it in the sunshine. We will be producing lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, which will be harvested for anyone to use.”

Ken was named a Neighbourhood Hero by Care Plus, which manages the retirement living community on behalf of not-for-profit housing provider Housing Plus Group. Sharon Allen is his retirement living officer: “Ken has made such a positive difference to our community,” she said. “He has created a lovely outdoor space that has become very important to the residents. He’s an ambassador in our community and a great neighbour who is always willing to help.”