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Group’s Passion Shares Nature’s Beauty at Independent-Living Senior Community
PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 16, 2023) – How do you start a garden in a high-rise apartment building without a traditional backyard? The resident-run Urban Gardening Club at Fountain View at Logan Square has turned the 24-story tower’s Northern Terrace into a blooming oasis – and brought new meaning to the concept of community gardening.
Sarah M. Jobes, life enrichment director at the only luxury independent senior living high-rise in Center City, said the club was formed by Fountain View resident Marty Gehlhaus in June of 2022. “Marty noticed that the fourth-floor terrace was not being fully utilized,” she said. “When he first proposed a garden to our Resident Council, many of the members were concerned that the space was too exposed to the sun and wind. But Marty is a skilled gardener who knew it would be an ideal location.”
Inspired by a Passion for Plants
Marty’s passion for plants stems back to his days as a Boy Scout. “My favorite activity was identifying leaves, and over time it extended to birds,” he recalls. As an adult, he nurtured a vegetable garden for years at his home in upper Montgomery County, Pa., growing everything from radishes and peppers to potatoes and green beans.
Marty continued to cultivate a vegetable garden when he and his wife, Carol, relocated to Florida’s West Coast – a move he credits with expanding his appreciation and knowledge of the plant world. “Everything grows there,” he said. “I was always noticing new types of vegetation when I was out playing golf or tennis, or on a fishing boat in the mangroves.”
After moving to Fountain View in 2021, Marty talked with other residents about what they missed most about where they had lived before. “Many people said their gardens and their flowers, so I felt there would be an interest,” he noted. “I wanted to give them the opportunity to enjoy something they loved doing in the past.”
In the spring of 2022, about 15 residents joined Marty in creating a container garden. “You can grow a wide range of vegetables and flowers in containers, but choosing the right plants for the conditions is essential,” Marty said. “In the beginning, we asked club members what annuals they wanted to see, and some of the original plants were heat and wind tolerant. We planted everything from petunias and nasturtium, to begonias and geraniums.”
The garden’s first vegetable plant was donated by the family of a tomato-loving resident. “They were Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, and we made a sign that said ‘Stanley’s Tomatoes’ in his honor,” said Marty.
A Mission to Share Nature’s Beauty and Bounty
One year later, the club – and the garden – are thriving. Members met regularly in the spring and early summer for deadheading, weeding, mulching and sweeping, and they adjusted the mix of flowers and vegetables. “We bought more marigolds and impatiens because they do well, and brought in more perennials because it’s fun to see things come up,” Marty noted. “We also added some milkweed to attract butterflies and a few more types of tomatoes. They have been a bit hit with the residents!”
This summer’s unusually hot weather has made watering a daily task – one that club member Klaus Mordhurst relishes. “He likes having breakfast and then going out to water,” Marty said. “It’s quite a job, given the number and size of the containers, but Klaus has his routine. We call him Father Nature.”
Jobes noted, “It brings us so much joy to see our residents pursue their passions right here within our community. Gardens are places where people from diverse backgrounds can find a common purpose. This resident-driven effort to share nature’s beauty with the community exemplifies the unique lifestyle that Fountain View offers.”
Fountain View at Logan Square – which is currently in the midst of a $25 million renovation – has the distinction of being the only Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Philadelphia’s Center City district. Residents enjoy breathtaking views and a carefree, active lifestyle with fine dining and a wealth of onsite amenities – as well as access to personal care and skilled nursing services should the need arise. Experience Fountain View at Logan Square by scheduling a visit and tour. Call 484-562-4538 for more information.
PHOTO CAPTION (L-R): Fountain View Urban Gardening Club members Billy O’Sullivan Smith, Myra Eskin, Sandy Drant, Klaus Mordhurst, Ed Napieralski and Marty Gehlhaus
Fountain View at Logan Square
2 Franklin Town Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
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