Not only does resident Toby Turner call The Buckingham home, but she is also the on-site master gardener for the 22-acre property. In 2018, she and her husband made the decision to take charge of their future. They later moved into The Buckingham in 2020 and dove into the vibrant life at the Houston senior living community.
Born in Orlando, Toby attended SMU and first experienced Houston when she visited Rice University for a football game. She immediately fell in love with the city. Toby had an incredible career in oil and gas and with the National Geographic Society as a researcher on the Apollo Program at NASA. She was one of the early female executives in the oil and gas business in Houston, and she mentored other women to help them get their foot in the door of the competitive industry. Toby even mentored Annise Parker, who would later become the mayor of Houston. Fast forward to 2018 when Toby and her husband first realized that they might need to consider moving into an independent living facility. The couple made the decision to look at their options after some friends and family had recently moved away and Toby had undergone two knee replacement surgeries.
Toby and her husband were drawn to residents and staff members at The Buckingham and how incredibly friendly they are. She also loves the fact that there are many male residents, because it was important to her for her husband to be able to make friends as well.
Shortly after moving in, Toby became the on-site master gardener for the property. The staff has been very supportive, and she’s loved the chance to continue practicing something she’s passionate about. To earn the title of Master Gardener, Toby spent time taking the appropriate courses, and once she received the designation, she even taught and lectured in Houston. She also acts as the chairman of the Landscape Committee at The Buckingham, which is a group of residents interested in maintenance and beautification of property landscape and gardens.
Toby’s love of all things gardening, landscaping and flowers translate into the beautiful scenery at the property. Some of her favorites that she’s added include Henry Duelberg Salvia, Drift Roses, Earth-Kind, Kordes and Ping Lim Roses – the best disease-free, easy-care roses she can find. She’s also added American Beautyberry, Parsley Hawthorn and Spuria Iris. Additionally, she has brought in adapted plants, more perennials and flowers, and nectar plants to attract butterflies. Toby shares that having a garden on-site with plants that attract birds and butterflies is wonderful for mental and emotional health. As a member of the Houston Rose Society, she worked with internationally known rosarian, author and fellow member Gaye Hammond to personally select roses for The Buckingham.
After winter storm Uri hit Houston, The Buckingham lost many plants, including some that are usually hardy and some that didn’t have a chance to become established before the freeze. A plant’s hardiness refers to its ability to handle typical freeze temperatures for the specific zone in which it’s grown. Although Houston is in Zone 9, Toby had planted for Zone 8 and still lost some plants. The state also saw a huge shortage in plant availability and landscape crews. This trying time has put Toby’s skills to the test throughout the spring and summer, and she has used every technique she can to get The Buckingham’s landscaping back in shape.
From the beautiful blooms to the wonderful people, Toby and her husband have never once regretted their decision to move in at The Buckingham. She often sees people who put off senior living until their children must make the choice, but she and her husband wanted to avoid that scenario. “You want to make the decision while you can and move to a place like The Buckingham when you can still enjoy the amenities and activities,” said Toby.