Spring has arrived at Mariners' Park, the Merseyside retirement estate run by the Nautilus Welfare Fund charity – writes Jon Parkin. The gardening team have been hard at work getting the grounds ready for warmer days, so it's the perfect time for a tour.
Giving residents a say
The look of the grounds is very much guided by those who live on the estate – whether in the supported housing or at the Mariners' Park Care Home. With most of the Park's residents having worked at sea, many enjoy watching the ships go by into the port of Liverpool, so trees have been cut back to open up the glorious view of the River Mersey.
Bird feeders have also been added for bird lovers, and planters for those with green fingers. Many of those living at the park enjoy the variety of wildlife that can be spotted, with some noting the contrast between the local creatures and the wildlife out at sea.
'It is our aim to make Mariners' Park as pleasant as possible for residents,' says head gardener Dave Crawford. 'We're always looking for ways to improve their experience and asking for input on what they would like to see around the park. It's important for residents to have a say on changes that are being made where they live.'
Greenhouse and pond
There's an area popular with many residents that you might not spot at first glance. Tucked away behind the Trinity House Hub hobbies room are a greenhouse and planters which provide even those who are less mobile with the opportunity to grow their own plants – including fruit and vegetables. A pond also allows residents to feed the fish and maintain an area of their own.
Used in spring and summer for bowls, the green is a much-loved area of the Park. A lot of work is put into maintaining its pristine surface. Staff are looking at ways to increase activity on the green, as usage has declined in recent years.
Flowers by the Mersey
The array of flowers seen across the site are a testament to the gardening team's hard work. Right now, in spring, daffodils are popping up across the fringes of grassy areas. The memorial benches in these parts of the park provide a great place for residents to look out across the Mersey and watch the ships glide on by.
As part of maintaining a nautical theme, an old rowing boat (named Rosa) has been filled with flowers. While this is a small touch, it's something that residents have said they like, and helps highlight the Park's maritime roots.
Care home garden
The Mariners' Park Care Home garden sits just outside the dementia wing. With areas to sit under cover, an array of plants, windchimes and a fantastic view, it provides care home residents with a great outdoor space and sensory experience.
Railings have recently been added in to provide stability for residents as they make their way round the garden.
Liz Richardson Roof Terrace
Named after the late Nautilus Welfare Fund manager Liz Richardson, the roof terrace on the top floor of the Trinity House Hub provides exceptional views – especially since the gardeners tidied up the plants and trees close to the promenade along the river.
During the process of clearing plants and trees from this slope, the garden staff found several divots and uneven patches of ground. Perhaps old smugglers' tunnels lie beneath the park?