Munson Hospice House Rose and Perennial Gardens
By Gayla Elsner, MG
The second annual work bee for this Master Gardener project happened on May 18th, with six hearty volunteers participating on a cool, rainy day. Three MG volunteers; Amy Leiva, and Duke and Gayla Elsner, led Hospice House volunteers Sandy, Taryn and Chris as we did spring clean-up, including weeding and fertilizing the Knockout roses, pruning shrubs and small trees, and weeding and raking the perennial beds. We answered questions and demonstrated pruning and gardening techniques for the Hospice House volunteers, who can share this information with other volunteers.
We also did a cleanup of a forested area directly behind the Hospice House where residents enjoy feeding and watching deer, birds, and other wildlife. Many of the rooms at Hospice House have doors that open up onto a beautiful deck, where the bed can be rolled right out so the patient can enjoy being in the forest, with a canopy of trees overhead. This area had become overgrown with vines and shrubs so that deer were not coming up to the deck as they once did. We cleaned up the shrubs and vines, picked up trash, and hauled away logs. Some pretty ground space cover plants are now visible, too.
We didn’t get everything done. In particular it was too wet to cut back the nice ornamental grasses using our new battery-powered shears. But that’s fine. Now we move on to the maintenance phase in the garden. Last year was the first year for this project and we focused on raising awareness that the garden existed but had fallen into disarray. We brought together Master Gardeners, Cherry Capital Rose Society, and Hospice House volunteers: we came up with a plan to restore the garden and teach garden care to Hospice House volunteers. This year’s focus is scheduling regular maintenance at the garden.
Now that we have several volunteers who know what needs to be done to maintain the garden and how to care for each type of plant, we can focus on the schedule. We are trying a calendar app as a way for people to see when other folks are doing maintenance and schedule themselves either at times when no one is scheduled and the garden really needs it, or at times when they can learn, say, rose care or tree care, from other volunteers. On our second year with this project, we have a good list of potential volunteers and are also working on a relationship with a group of high school students interested in helping us out for their volunteer hours. If this project is something you’d like to spend some hours on, email Gayla Elsner firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are amazed at the dedication and caring of Hospice Volunteers. Gardening is just a tiny part of what they do. It was a good feeling working alongside them. They encourage us and let us know that we are a part of helping hospice patients and their families have a nurturing environment during a very difficult time. With positive experiences like looking at flowers, feeding the wildlife, or listening to the breeze in the trees their time in hospice can be good.