If you ask Adriaan Sizoo, there is no place better to calm the mind and rejuvenate the inner spirit than in the heart of nature. There is a physiological response in the human body at the touch of a plant of the scent of a flower, and Adriaan is proud to pour his energy into creating thoughtful, intentional and beautiful outdoor spaces for the residents of Schlegel Villages, their guests and the team members who work alongside them.
Adriaan is the landscape specialist with Schlegel Villages and the excitement of spring is in the air as he looks forward to the many projects getting underway to enhance the outdoor experience for residents. Adriaan has always been passionate about gardening and landscape architecture so when he was brought into the Schlegel Villages organization, he found like-minded purpose alongside Ron Schlegel’s vision. The Schlegel family, he says, has deep roots in the soil of southwestern Ontario, whether on farmlands in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, the fields and forests around Ailsa Craig where they own and operate the Shady Pines campground or in the courtyards of Schlegel Villages. These Villages are especially busy places and Adriaan is the link to ensure that in the busyness of days, weeks and months, the important attention to detail in the outdoor spaces is not forgotten.
“We want to encourage people to be outside to use these spaces,” Adriaan says. “We have to do more outside – more outdoor visits and plan more things outdoors. We have these beautiful spaces and we feel they could be used better.”
He points to The Village of Tansley Woods, which has an active gardening club and utilizes lovely raised gardens with residents guiding the process. Many Villages have similar opportunities and Adriaan suggests that his role is to support the design and the front-end work in gardens and courtyards – warming the soil, so to speak – and he then looks forward to being able to enjoy these spaces with residents.
“There are some fantastic people in the Villages,” he says. “At Winston Park there is a master gardener and I think he can teach me a thing or two. To exchange knowledge is fantastic and I would love that.”
Adriaan’s face is one that pops in and out of Villages at different times, travelling from location to location bearing gifts of natural beauty, but his message is consistent to all. In some senses, he says, people have forgotten the benefits of being outdoors and he is but one reminder.
“Regardless of health condition,” he says, “the outdoors has something to offer for everyone.”