HELPING OUT: Blondel with young volunteers Leasha, Katia and Rosemary weeding and trimming overgrown shrubs for a pensioner in Newbury Park
FOR YEARS, landscape gardener Curtis Blondel helped breathe life into flat land, transforming it into beautiful gardens.
Now, the 45-year-old is helping to bring some of this loveliness into the lives of some of Britain’s most senior residents.
Since January, Blondel, from Hainault in Essex, has been travelling with volunteers to the homes of senior citizens, trimming hedges and whipping overgrown gardens into tiptop shape for free.
Blondel said he was inspired to create his project while doing a personal development course. His commitment to offering the service was strengthened after chatting with elderly people he met.
“I am passionate about horticulture and I thought it would be really fantastic if I could help people in my community by doing what I really love,” Blondel told The Voice. “I know they can gain so much from improving their environment, by making their gardens more usable and by giving them a feel good factor.”
Blondel and his volunteer team have been helping eight elderly people, whose ages range from late 60s to 90.
He often helps by removing weeds or renovating overgrown gardens. “Quite often, they don’t have enough finances because their pensions are quite limited in terms of their spending power. Some are disabled, some don’t have enough energy and some have injuries that prevent them from gardening. I just decided to help the elderly in the community and make them feel better. I like seeing the smiles on people’s faces. You can see that they really appreciate what is being done.”
He said he is hoping to expand his project and so needs more volunteers. “For each borough, I am looking for a core group of at least 10 people to volunteer. I would like to do this as a pilot scheme and do it across London,” said Blondel, who has been a landscape gardener since 1985.
The Dominica born landscaper said he first became hooked on horticulture as an inquisitive ten year old.
His passion for plants and flowers began in parents’ garden. And he says that passion was further “inspired by watching natural history programmes, especially with people like David Bellamy and David Attenborough. I thought it was just so wonderful to see the variety of plant life in this world.”
In his 25 years on the job, Blondel has designed, renovated and managed gardens for a range of organisations such as local authorities, charities and housing associations.