Cultures around the world have long recognized the healing power of nature. For this reason, The Meditation Gardens of Hospice of the Upstate are designed to strengthen our connection to the natural environment, providing an opportunity for relief from stress, and a soothing experience to nurture the mind, body, and spirit.
Gardens at the Callie & John Rainey Hospice House were planted by many volunteers, family members, donors as the house was built, dedicated and opened in June 1998.
When Rose Dining Hall and Sadler Center were being built in 2005, we worked with a landscape architect to make a Master Plan for the Meditations gardens—which now cover several acres of flowering trees, shrubs, perennial and seasonal flowers and herbs. (e.g. Tea Olives, Camellias, Magnolias, Azaleas, Butterfly Bushes, Roses, Daylilies and Tulips.)
In 2007, an anonymous gift from a Hospice of the Upstate family made possible the first phase of the Meditation Gardens, surrounded by the patios of the Hospice House patient wings. It was dedicated May 20, 2007.
Additional landscaping around the Bell tower, Outdoor Sculpture, and Arbors was added through summer, and in the fall the Barbara Craft garden (by the Sadler Center) was installed by her friends and family. Outdoor lighting was added to the Meditation Gardens the next year, by a gift in honor of the Klatt family, so the garden could be enjoyed at night.
In September 2008, the Welcome Garden (in front of the Rainey Hospice House) was added as a gift of the HOTU employees.
Near the flagpoles at the entrance to the campus, a memorial garden was first dedicated on September 11, 2002. Since then, it has been renewed and improved as the Red Jackson Memorial Garden, as an Eagle Scout project (dedicated November 10, 2009).
The area located between the upper and lower parking lots was also completed in 2010 with flagstone stairs and ground cover. – provided in memory of Terrell Chapman by his many friends.
The most recent plantings were added in the front and side of the Hospice House – an Aromatherapy garden planted in the fall of 2010 and in 2014, a corner alcove in memory of John Tomkin Leatham.
We are privileged to have expert advice from many garden professionals, and donations from many individuals and companies to help plant the garden.
For instance, the garden ladies:
Pina Sovia had a vision. While volunteering at the Rainey Hospice House, she noticed the hours, days, and weeks that families spent with their loved ones who were terminally ill. The medical care, the emotional and spiritual support she could see was excellent. What her gardener’s heart could see was the enormous potential for their spirits to be nourished by the beauty of nature, right there by the patient’s bedside. She rounded up plants, and each week she pruned, watered and reported 27 plants on each patient’s patio.
In 2007, Hospice of the Upstate embarked the first phase of a Master Plan for the Meditation Gardens. Once planted, Pina recruited a team to maintain the three-acre landscape full of bushes, trees and flowers. Within a couple of months Terri Campbell joined her, and over the next months Lynn McGowan and Pat Stanford became a part of the “Garden Ladies.”
The gardens are designed for the benefit our patients, families, and visitors. The gardens become a sanctuary from the turmoil of everyday life. They can be a place of reflection, quiet and still, or a place of movement and energy, invigorating the soul. For years the Garden Ladies have come and worked faithfully to ensure that our patients are able to witness nature’s beauty.
A typical summer day will see the Garden Ladies pushing wheel barrows, deadheading marigolds, pruning salvia, watering all the potted plants, weeding all individual beds, and fertilizing azaleas. They are faithful throughout each season.
They enjoy their work and call it their exercise, therapy, and renewal of life. Throughout their time at Hospice of the Upstate they have gotten to know many families. One in particular stays with them—a young lady who sat on a garden bench, crying, near the plot they were working. They asked her if she was okay. She obviously didn’t want to talk, but sat there silently weeping. Time passed, and the ladies moved on to another part of the gardens. As they finished their work, the young woman approached them to tell them it was the one-year anniversary of her father’s death. The year before, when she stayed with him at the Hospice House, she’d found peace in the gardens. This day she had been at work, and decided to come to where she felt close to him, the Meditation Gardens. Here she was able to remember, reflect, and move to healing.
The Garden Ladies all feel that these blessings make it all worthwhile. The quiet heroes who make it possible to continually live in the beauty of the garden are those who come, daily if needed, to nurture, water, and weed and prune the plants so they can achieve their full glory.
Garden of Hope
These gardens are dedicated in love,
With help from our Creator above;
Comfort and solace we hope they will bring,
The fountain, a sign that hope eternal springs.
In this place of light in the dark hours,
Healing and reflection are its power;
Stopping and looking at its wonders,
Is akin to the power of the Lord’s thunder.
Let our souls rejoice in this gift of nature,
Which is given by our almighty Creator;
Bless this garden and all who pass through,
Allow us to be better in all that we do.
– written by the donor of the Meditation Gardens