The week (commencing May 17, 2021) was Dementia Awareness Week. As a carer for wife Liz, who suffers from this terrible disease, Paul Muldoon recognised the significance of the campaign and wanted to give something back.
As a dedicated gardener, it was in the autumn when he was digging up and splitting a large poppy plant into twelve separate plants, that the germ of an idea entered his head… he could sell off the plants to raise funds for his nominated charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK.
From that inspired idea in January, Paul invested his own money buying seeds, compost and recycled plant pots from garden centres, augmented by reused yoghurt pots and peanut butter pots, and anything else necessary to successfully nurture plant life.
He totally committed himself to propagating the plants and needed to be inventive in keeping them alive. He said: “The weather in April was bitterly cold in the early mornings and evenings.
“Despite rigging up two ‘greenhouses’, basically shelves protected by plastic sheets, and even diverting the clothes drier exhaust into the greenhouses to keep them warm, I had no choice other than to bring many of the plants into the house or they would have perished.
“Every flat surface ended up covered with pots. It ended up really hard work and it wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been a normal season.”
Thankfully some of the heavy lifting was undertaken by son Robert to help protect Paul’s dodgy back.
Most weeks, Paul and Liz take part in Zoom sessions with Age UK and Empowered Conversations and it was at one such session that Paul announced his intention to hold a plant sale from his house on Saturday, May 15, to tie in with Dementia Awareness Week.
What a lovely last session of Return to the Country. We made our own fluffy lambs and we met some fluffy lambs! It was the perfect last session. Thank you @lowerhousesens1! As always you provided a true escape for us all! @AgeUKSalford pic.twitter.com/43eKCJ00GP
— The Empowered Communications Approach (@emP_Convos) March 29, 2021
He listened carefully to the feedback from the session. Paul explained: “One lady immediately offered to buy some plants but I was hesitant as to whether this was viable and therefore decided to add some tubs and hanging baskets of petunias, which really came up trumps.
“The tubs and hanging baskets supplemented the wide variety of individual plants available to buy.”
Snapdragons, zinnias, astas, African marigolds, poppies and dahlias were all on offer.
In addition to promoting the sale at the Zoom meetings, Paul also notified his and Liz’s family via Whatsapp, the Wardley Community Group via Facebook and his other friends through word of mouth.
A board was placed on his drive to notify anyone passing. On the big day, a table was placed in the garden with leaflets providing information about dementia awareness.
Paul was shocked at the reaction. He continued: “People started arriving early and in large numbers rather than in dribs and drabs as I’d expected. It was frantic and I was run off my feet and fortunately, my son Steven took charge of Liz while I dealt with individual requests.”
Gratifyingly, the day proved to be a huge success. Instead of the £200 or so that he had expected to make, Paul was elated to discover that his efforts had accumulated £736.
However, this is not the end of the affair, as Paul is already planning a summer sale of strawberries, tomato plants and sunflowers.
Despite the enormous workload involved, one suspects that Paul’s plant sales may well become an annual, and a welcome feature of life in Wardley.