Residents Cultivate a Fulfilling Life Through Gardening at the Heritage of Green Hills

Though Paul and Virginia “Ginny” Shipper left their Wyomissing, Pa. family home with its expansive vegetable garden for a maintenance-free lifestyle at The Heritage of Green Hills, there was no need to give up the pursuit that had given them so much joy — and fresh produce — throughout their lives. 

Before moving to Shillington, Pa.’s premiere lifeplan senior living community three years ago, the couple maintained a 25’ x 40’ plot in their backyard, where they grew cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, peppers, and many other herbs and vegetables for the whole family to enjoy. Paul was mostly in charge of the plants, while Ginny headed up the family’s canning and preserving efforts. 

“The kids got so spoiled on being able to just go out the back door for fresh food,” Ginny laughs. “When they got to college, they all complained about the food. They hated it.”

Now, Paul cultivates tomatoes and peppers in his raised bed at The Heritage — which is one of nine the community offers its green-thumbed residents. The raised beds are perfect for gardeners who want to limit the stress on their joints caused by repeated bending, squatting, and kneeling, or who have limited mobility. 

“I also have a few Earth Boxes for container gardening, which are perfect for growing things on the patio.” 

Raised beds and container gardening have other benefits, too, including better weed and pest control. 

As a member of the community’s resident-run Landscaping Committee, Paul uses his knowledge of horticulture to help keep The Heritage’s campus of rolling hills aesthetically pleasing in a seasonally appropriate and sustainable way. He also gave a presentation to visitors at the community’s recent Heritage in Bloom Event. 

Meanwhile, Ginny continues to work at a local nursery, Penny Hill Farm, in Mohrsville, Pa., — a pastime she has enjoyed for more than 20 years. “I went shopping there one day with my sister and I fell in love with the place,” she explains. “I’m part of a group of seniors who help out a few times a week cleaning up and making sure the plants on display are ready for sale.”

Working at the nursery is hard work, but Ginny finds it very fulfilling. “At the end of the day, I’m dirty, sweaty, and tired — but I keep going back,” she laughs. “Chris, who runs Penny Hill, has taught me so much about propagation.” 

Paul also lends a hand at Penny Hill, transplanting vegetables and readying displays. The nursery provides flower pots to Heritage to brighten up residents’ patios and balconies as well as some plants for general landscaping.

Choosing The Heritage

Like many seniors, Ginny and Paul decided to make the move to a senior living community when home maintenance became burdensome. “The timing was right. We could invest money into the repairs the house needed or pass them along to the next owner and skip the hassle,” says Paul.

They toured The Heritage because a few friends and colleagues lived there and spoke highly of it, but they also looked at other communities, too. In fact, it was during a visit to another community that they decided to make The Heritage of Green Hills their new home. “We had just finished up a tour somewhere else and we turned to each other in the parking lot, not 50 feet from their front door,” Ginny laughs. “Neither of us were impressed with what we had just seen, and we decided then and there to make the call to put down our deposit with The Heritage, and we haven’t looked back.”

Along with gardening opportunities and proximity to Penny Hill Farm, the Shippers appreciate the flexibility and freedom they enjoy at The Heritage. “We come and go as we please,” says Ginny. “We have a family member who lived in a community that required her to choose her meal options ahead of time and tell people if she wasn’t going to be there! She even had an assigned seat in the dining room. Here, you eat what you want, when you want, with whom you want. The same is true for activities. There are so many wonderful things to do here, and we can join in when we want to, but there’s no pressure. You can do your own thing at your own pace. We can be perfectly relaxed here.”

At the same time, the couple appreciates the support that the community affords them, too. “If something happens,” Ginny says. “I can make a phone call and someone will be here immediately to help. That is very reassuring.”

Other Opportunities for Hobbyists at The Heritage 

The Heritage of Green Hills is home to many interesting people with fascinating hobbies and passions. Whether you love gardening, painting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, pottery, games, reading, fitness, woodworking, model trains, tai chi, swimming, dancing, or yoga, there’s a place for you — and new groups, classes, and clubs are forming all the time. To learn more about ways you can continue your favorite pastimes at The Heritage of Green Hills, contact us at 484-269-5100 or

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