After an evening work session, several volunteers were just relaxing with appetizers and beverages. We enjoyed the beauty of the Sanford Memorial Healing Garden at the Trinity Care Center, much of which has been renovated over the summer. We took in the delicious scents of the blooms around us. It was one of those idyllic summer evenings where a miniature breeze was all that was needed to keep mosquitoes at bay and twilight provided just the perfect ambiance.
In our conversations, we talked about the comments we received during the Educational Garden tour. Most were very positive. One concern, however, has to do with a raised section of cement which impedes the wheel chair access from the nursing home to the garden. Immediately, Adrienne mentioned that she and her husband run a company that specializes in handicapped entrances. They would come and look at the situation and see if there might be a lower cost fix to the problem.
This afternoon, as I write this article about what is happening at the healing garden, I think of that special evening and that comment. Just when a problem has arisen, somehow a resource has emerged. That’s pretty much been the story all summer.
The garden was the brainchild of Martha Erickson and Leslie Pettis, who were instrumental in developing the garden in 1996 and organizing the Trinity Garden Tour. Several years later, the idea of a labyrinth came from a garden tour suggestion box. In 2001, with no budget to speak of, the labyrinth was completed and became the first labyrinth in a healing garden setting, in the United States. Martha, Leslie and others went to Chardes, France for training and became certified labyrinth facilitators. In it’s 10 year run, the Trinity Garden Tour raised over $100, 000.00 for the Trinity Care Center and became the “hallmark tour” of gardens in this area. The garden itself, was just glorious.
Joy Lauderback, activities director at the care center, contacted me in April, to see if I had any interest in helping with just one section of the healing garden. Since the hospital closed some 15 years ago, the garden had fallen into major disrepair. When the tour stopped, folks in the community seemed to forget that this wonderful space was still available in our community. I approached Nell McClung about the garden to see if a group of Master Gardeners might spearhead a group to rejuvenate the garden and get it ready for the Educational Tour. As she looked at the abundance of thistle, the maple tree volunteers sprouting up in shrub roses and overgrowth of just about every plant, desirable and non, I was surprised when she said, “Sure, Let’s try it.”
The response of Mater Gardeners and local garden clubs, has been amazing. Many volunteers have helped to assess the situation and dedicated hours of spade and pitchfork work. We eradicated many overgrown plants and weeds and developed a plan to simplify and create a lower maintenance, yet inviting garden. A huge thank you goes out the Lady’s Slipper Garden Club of Farmington, and the Lakeville Garden Club. These organizations are in the project to provide the ongoing maintenance, with Master Gardeners doing more help with the direction and rejuvenation pieces. I will always remember the huge turnout when we all came together to mulch and dress up the garden, right before the tour. All of our efforts would be lost without their help.
Today, the garden is being used more and more by residents of the Care Center. The attendance at the garden tour in July was also very encouraging. A thank-you note from a patron of the tour, who specifically thanked the volunteers for our healing touch in the garden, was especially uplifting. Plans are underway not only to continue in the renovation process, but also, to increase the community outreach and education process.
As we have worked together, Master Gardeners have shared thoughts of where we go from here. Several of us plan to attend the “Nature Heals Symposium”, put on by the Arboretum and the Center for Spirituality and Healing, in October. Plans are underway to develop workshops and classes that can be offered by Master Gardeners, for residents of the Care Center and their families, pastors and other religious leaders in the community. Also, some “weeding 101” classes or “perennial growing 101” are in the planning stages. The Care Center board has approved outreach to the City Council to increase public awareness and support of the garden. I personally am thinking of how to prioritize the list of jobs which volunteers for Dakota County Community Service will be completing at the garden yet this month. Linda Wenzel, who applied for and received a Thrivent Grant, is collaborating to decide on a garden centerpiece which we can bring into the garden. The ball is now rolling so fast, it’s just amazing.
The biggest goal for 2016, is to rewrite the application to the Dakota County Master Gardeners to have the site designated as a Dakota County Master Gardener’s site. I am thinking of all the ways in which the garden can and does educate and benefit the community and the list just goes on and on. It’s kind of like the message from Adrienne’s comment…where there has been a challenge, there has been a resource. I am so looking forward to seeing how this garden is going to grow.
Author: Cathy Johnson, Dakota County Master Gardener