Garden ladies gone wild (kind of)

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

A few of our “garden ladies” (from l to r) Margaret Boggs, Marty Mack, Ann Anderson, Leslie Smith, and Kitty Hundley

You know, when people find out I work for a hospice organization, the first sentence out of their mouths is always, “Oh, wow.  That must be so difficult!”  Well, it’s not.  It’s pretty cool actually.  I mean, if I’m being honest, the folks I would direct that kind of comment to, given the chance, are our clinicians (who would, of course, claim that it’s not difficult.  And that’s because they are all amazingly compassionate people who are totally fulfilled by this job).  In my opinion, they have the hard job because they are the ones who have to watch heart-wrenching goodbyes.  They are the ones who have to witness patients in pain, both physical and mental, and feel pressured to make it all better.  Me, I get the easy part.  I get to write about the special times and the special people.  People like our volunteers.

I was up at Levine & Dickson Hospice House last month when our amazing photographer, Chelsea Bren, was taking pictures of some of our volunteers in action.  I wish I could share all of her shots with you because they truly capture the combination of devotion and energy that all of our volunteers possess.  But I can at least share some of their stories.

First, I’ll tell you about our “garden ladies”, as we like to call them.  They are a group of 10 to 12 women who have adopted the gardens of LDHH as their special project.  And let me tell you, the transformation has been nothing short of astonishing.  When this club (the South Lake Norman Garden Club, to be exact) learned last Fall that the patient garden (which is kind of behind the hospice house and can be seen from the rear rooms) could use some sprucing, they jumped into action.  They spread out at least 50 bags of soil conditioner and when they felt that the soil was in good shape, they started planting.  They had carefully considered how much sun the area gets during the day and bought plants accordingly: roses, day lilies, verbena, sedum, ageratum, marigolds, and lantana.  They spent over $1,000 of their own money (and who knows how much time!) making this garden a beautiful place for patients and families to visit or to simply to view through the windows of their rooms.

The garden ladies’ “ownership” over the patches of land they nurture and cultivate is such that John Card, our director of maintenance at LDHH, pretty much asks for permission to do any work in those areas.  No surprise — he doesn’t want to face the wrath of the garden ladies.  Sometimes he gets permission to do the job.  Just as often, his request is denied.  Lovingly, of course.  It’s just that these women know their stuff and they won’t have anyone messing up the masterpieces they have so painstakingly created.

In all seriousness, you cannot put a price on the type of volunteering these wonderful women are doing — coming in unasked and offering their service, adding a lush quality to the grounds, and providing routine garden maintenance too.  While our staff members work hard to ensure a peaceful environment within the walls, the garden ladies are ensuring that everything outside the building offers serenity to match.

I spoke with one of the members, Leslie Smith, who told me that her club gets tremendous enjoyment out of making the garden grow and prosper.  They might not know how to relieve a patient’s pain, but they can certainly give the patients and their loved ones a beautiful landscape in which to mentally bask.  Visible rose bushes may seem like a small source of happiness, but at the end of life, it’s the small things that matter most, right?  I’ll take the view of gardens and flowers over a highrise or a parking garage any day.

That same day, I met a couple of other unique family “units” who offer their time at Levine & Dickson Hospice House.  And I’ll tell you all about them.  Next week.  Yep, you’re just going to have to wait.  Trust me — more fantastic pictures and stories coming your way soon.  And then after that?  Elvis may just make an appearance.  Like I said, I’ve got the easy part.

Garden before (after soil conditioning and weeding)

The garden after tons of work

Explore posts in the same categories: advocacy, awareness, end of life, hospice, Levine & Dickson Hospice House, volunteering

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3 Comments on “Garden ladies gone wild (kind of)”


  1. Great blog, Andrea! You can feel the passion and energy in your writing!

  2. silver price Says:

    i would recomend this place to anybody who needs hospice care. Its a beautiful facility and the staff is AMAZING!

  3. Missie Howell, RN Says:

    Thank you garden ladies for all of your hard work. I love working in such a beautiful envirnment and really appreciate the garden. Missie Howell, RN


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