Mary Rezin enjoys getting her hands a little dirty while planting flowers or pulling a few weeds. However, the former director of the Tomah Health Hospice Touch & Life Choices Palliative Care program never realized that the newly designed gardens that she helped to create behind the Hospice Serenity House at 601 Straw Street, Tomah would one day bear her name.
Mary’s Garden was dedicated as part of a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the hospice program Sept. 12.
“It’s quite an honor,” Rezin said of the recognition event attended by more than 50 people. “The sign says Mary’s Garden but it’s not really; it’s the garden for Hospice, the Serenity House garden and a community garden.”
It was Rezin’s vision to plant gardens behind the Hospice facility after it was built in 2011. “Every year we come up with a little bit more that we want to do and it’s fun to see it take shape and be something beautiful,” added Rezin who retired in March of this year after 35 years with Tomah Health including 25 years as hospice director.
“To think that she had this (plan) for more than 25 years and that we as a community have been able to benefit from this in so many ways it’s very heart-warming,” said Betty Beck, a master gardener and lab technician at Tomah Health.
It was Beck along with her husband, Wally, and master gardeners Sandra Humphrey of Tomah, Bruce and Jerri Brewer of Sparta, and garden designer Keith Daugherty and his wife, Myrna of West Salem, who completed work on the new section of the prairie garden this summer.
“You can just feel that it is a community driven type of project,” said Beck. “It isn’t just a few people; you have the heart of the whole community here and it’s a great tribute to the hospital and the people here and in the area.”
Keith Daugherty said the newest addition to the garden turned out better than he planned. “I’m very pleased with the way that it turned out,” said Daugherty, “and I’m looking at the health of the smaller plants and knowing what they will be next year because they will probably double in size and get into more their normal bloom rotation.”
Beck said planning has already begun to create another area into an old fashion garden with roses, peonies and maybe hollyhocks. “I think it’s going to be very exciting down the road.”
Coupled with the prairie gardens, the area includes a number of special features including various flowerbeds, a pond, and decorative wall and sitting area, which current Hospice Touch & Life Choices Palliative Care director Laura Fritz said has been enjoyed by patients, their families and even hospice staff. “We have double doors that we can get patients out there even in their bed, and lots of families spend time out there and there’s an awning that can give them some shade. It really has a calming effect on them (patients) and just being outside and enjoying the different nature sounds; it’s very tranquil for them to enjoy.”
Fritz singled out the Jesse Parker Foundation for a generous donation used to help lay the plans to grow the gardens. “It definitely will continue to expand and we’ll look into more projects as we go along for people to be out there and enjoy it.”
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