Gardeners Making the Most of Winter

January 16, 2017

Many residents and visitors are drawn to the natural setting of The Saybrook at Haddam – nestled within the rural town of Haddam, surrounded by wonderful trees, riverside parks, and forests. Our beautifully landscaped grounds – including courtyard gardens, walking paths with flowering borders, and countless planters and container gardens – engulf us in the wonder of nature, adding to the daily pleasures of life in our independent, assisted living and memory care community.  We just don’t know what we would do without all this natural beauty!

2011-01-27-01-22-12Then, of course, winter sets in.  The landscape becomes a barren palette of bare trees, dormant flowers, and snow-covered shrubbery – beautiful in its own way, of course, but not the show-stopping, colorful majesty of the other seasons.

This is the time of year we most appreciate visits from Jeff Eleveld of The People Plant Connection.  Jeff comes to The Saybrook at Haddam monthly to discuss a wide range of plant and gardening topics – and to make house calls to residents’ apartments to help solve plant and gardening issues they may be having.  During nicer weather, Jeff comes prepared with plants and soils for residents to study and then to incorporate into gardens throughout the community.

Last week, Jeff led a discussion about “plants in the news,” specifically about new scientific discoveries on how genetically modified plants can absorb up to 20 percent more light.  Known as “nonphotochemical quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence,” this finding enables a plant to provide up to 15 percent more crop in the same amount of space.

Researchers at the University of Georgia capture energy through photosynthesis

He also talked about how electricity can be produced through the natural process of photosynthesis creating enough power to charge a cell phone or even a small home!  Residents were amazed to learn about a study taking place in The Netherlands where a 2.2-acre site is currently producing energy to illuminate 300 street lamps, and to power Wifi hot spots and cell phone charging stations.  They asked many questions as they envisioned this possible new energy source of the future.


In addition to Jeff’s presentations, the gardeners in our community pass the cold winter months by spending many hours in our library or reading nooks looking at books, catalogs and magazines about plants, seeds, and soils. They plan out container gardens for their balconies, or research new houseplants for their indoor gardens.  Some residents think of ideas to suggest to freshen up the community’s existing border gardens or other landscaping.

desert-flowerResidents also appreciate being “armchair travelers” during these months watching many of the nature-themed documentaries and movies we play in our theater.  Through these videos, residents are able to experience a wide variety of natural beauty found in the desserts, forests, islands, and cities around the world. These trips give them an escape from life in the chilly northeast – and inspire them as they make their way through the winter months.

Winters at The Saybrook at Haddam are filled with our usual roster of events, social outings, entertainment, games, arts, and other activities for all to enjoy.  Our full days keep things bright and cheery for residents and gardeners who make up our community.  But we all know, deep down, we are eagerly watching for those robins to appear, those first buds to pop, and the snow and ice to recede back into the ground that will soon return us to our “natural state.”  It’s just a matter of time.hydrangeasFor a private tour of The Saybrook at Haddam and its beautiful grounds, please contact David Downey by email or by calling 860-345-3779.

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