Keith Shaw

31st January 2019

The communal greenhouse offers Keith, who had a long career in the interior design industry, a palette to work with.

How long have you been living here Keith?

I’ve been here three years.

And, how long have you been working in the greenhouse?

Well, almost from day one really. We brought plants with us you see. One or two plants that we got out of the garden at home and brought here. More or less started straight away. I used to love going out in the garden, about 6am in the morning. Hear the birds singing. And you’re there all on your own. Peaceful.

How do you feel when you’re in the greenhouse here?

Well it’s just relaxing. And it’s seeing something that you’ve started from a cutting gradually coming to life and then into bloom. It’s creating life really isn’t it? Planting the seed and seeing it gradually coming through the soil and developing. You nurture and care for it. It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed.

I love colour though. I’m not interested in vegetables. Geraniums are my passion. The beauty in that flower. It’s fantastic isn’t it?

Do you work much in the gardens here?

I’ve got these pots which I’ve now taken the summer plants out of. I shall be planting bulbs in there for the next couple of weeks, which hopefully will give us that splash of colour in the springtime.

The garden itself was planted to be low maintenance with not a lot of colour in it, unfortunately. And when we first moved in, we were told we weren’t allowed to do anything in the flower beds. But they’ve relaxed a little bit. They can see what we’re doing is adding to the garden, in many ways with the colour.

Colour is important to you, isn’t it?

Well, working with carpet and soft furnishings, I was always dealing with colours. When I did a new house for somebody, they would ask me to advise them on colours and that. The lads used to go and fit the carpets, I always did curtains. To see their faces the day they move in, it’s just fantastic.

How do you think you would spend your time if you didn’t have the greenhouse?

I’d probably spend more time on my computer. I really don’t want to do that, just sitting for hours at a computer. I don’t think it does you any good at all. It’s the same as sitting watching television.

Can you talk to me about the community at Bournville Gardens?

Well to be quite honest, a lot of us knew each other before we moved in. We used to have monthly meetings. They explained different things to us about the way we would be living and about the building. And then we would have coffee and get chatting. So really the community was more or less formed before we moved in.

Obviously we’ve had quite a lot of people unfortunately pass away through illness but we get new people move in and we soon try to get them involved. There are certain people obviously that just don’t want to know at all. They just want to live in their own little apartment, in their own world. And there’s nothing you can do about that.

Is community important to you?

I lost my wife just before I moved in, so for me, coming here was about having company. I used to cook for myself when I first moved in, but now I don’t. I go into the restaurant because it’s far nicer sitting down eating with people and enjoying conversations. Putting the world to rights.