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If you’re a plant lover, springtime is one of the most exciting times of year. So many new blooms and green colors to enjoy while you spend time outside in the nice weather. If you prefer to take a more active approach to nature, it also means it’s time to start gardening. Even if you don’t have a huge yard, you can still have a thriving garden. In addition to house plants inside, container gardening is a great option for small outdoor spaces like patios and balconies.

Container gardening basics

You don’t need large or heavy pots to have success with container gardening. Small pots, barrels, buckets, and more can be just as happy a growing home for plants as a flower bed or large garden. Make sure there’s enough room for the roots of the plant. (Learn more about finding the right size container here.) Remember that the smaller the pot, the easier it is for the soil to dry out, so keep that watering can handy.

Make sure your containers have sufficient holes for drainage. If a plant’s roots are too saturated with water it can lead to rot and eventually loss of the plant. You can drill more holes if you need, but it’s usually easier to buy a pot that’s already good to go. If you’re on an upper floor, you’ll need a pan under the container to make sure they don’t drip down on your neighbors!

Healthy plants start with healthy soil. If you buy your soil from a home and garden center, look for labels that specifically say “soilless potting mix.” This will steer you away from garden-specific soil or other products. Soilless mix is a good choice because it’s lighter and ideal for container plant drainage. For a more in-depth look at different soils, this is a good resource.

What to plant

You can plant lots of variety in containers, from vegetables to herbs to flowers. Peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, strawberries, basil, rosemary, and thyme are just a few edibles that will thrive on your patio. If you’re a less hungry gardener, try zinnias, marigolds, or geraniums for a pop of beautiful color. Succulents are attractive and low-maintenance options that do well both inside and out.

Knowing what garden zone you’re in will help you know when to plant certain things and what plants will do well in your region. This map will help you determine your zone and then you can check on the seed packages to see if the plant is cut out for the climate where you are. Cape Girardeau is in zone 6.

Make a list of which kinds of plants you’d like to try before you head to the seed or plant section of the garden department. This will help you determine how many containers and how much soil to get. Once you get all your supplies, it’s time to go home and get excited about everything you’re about to grow!

Join the gardening club

If you can’t get enough planting, The Chateau also has a gardening club full of other plant lovers. Make some new friends and pick their brains on how they keep their gardens lush and blooming. Club members also assist in keeping the greenery and flowers on the Nature Trail in tip top shape, so bring your green thumbs and join the fun.

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If Dr. Mary Frances Luckey looks familiar to you, it’s because you’ve probably seen her around in her navy polo teaching Tai Chi at The Chateau. As a resident of The Chateau, Dr. Luckey is very invested in her community, bringing Tai Chi to her fellow residents once a week.

Dr. Luckey was certified to teach Tai Chi in 2008; she found that it was helpful for both her body and soul, and she wanted to share the art with others. When she first introduced Tai Chi to The Chateau community, she laughed when a resident said to her, “I didn’t come to The Chateau to go to school!” but Dr. Luckey is dedicated to making her class as involved as it can be. After months of going through the motions with her, her students are each talented enough to probably teach, according to Dr. Luckey. She admits that to be involved in Tai Chi at The Chateau is a tremendous investment of time, but assures everyone that it’s very worth it to keep your mind, body, and soul happy and healthy.

Besides Tai Chi, Dr. Luckey loves being a part of book club, taking care of her irises, and acting as a caregiver to her late mother’s best friend. But the thing she loves doing most of all is playing Bridge. Her mother and all her friends had been playing every Tuesday since the 50s, but “I never learned to play!” she laughed. When her mother arrived at The Chateau, a few years before Dr. Luckey, she knew no one. Starting from the ground up, she used Bridge as a way to get into the community. And Dr. Luckey followed in her footsteps. Dr. Luckey plays Bridge with a regular group weekly, and once a month she plays Duplicate Bridge, which is much more serious. “There is no talking during the hand,” she emphasized. “But we spend the whole day playing and we talk in between hands and at lunch,” she smiled.

Dr. Luckey’s favorite thing about The Chateau is being surrounded by friends. She says, gesturing to the lobby, “Oh, I’m down here all the time, talking to people.” The Chateau gave her the safety and the security she needed, as well as the opportunity to socialize. Because of her arthritis, getting around to places and going to events was more difficult when she was alone. But she credits the community to greater health all around. “Something binds us together but I don’t know what that something is,” she said. “We never have to miss out, even if we’ve been gone. We all give each other a lot more energy!”

Dr. Mary Frances Luckey has been a resident of The Chateau for 8 years.

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