HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — It’s a gardening competition worthy of a generous cash prize, but it’s not about the money.
In this case, it’s about enhancing the healing environment for the patients and residents at Western Maryland Hospital Center, said Cindy Holzapfel, a member of the center’s Therapeutic Gardens Committee.
The seven-member committee came up with the idea to invite nine local garden clubs to design and plant a garden on the center’s property, with the gardens to be judged in hopes of winning the $1,000 prize, which was provided by an anonymous donor.
The Hugh A. Brandenburg Therapeutic Gardens Competition at Western Maryland Hospital Center was named in honor of Hugh Brandenburg, a volunteer at the center for nearly 30 years and a nature lover.
“It’s creating quite a stir,” said Cindy Pellegrino, Western Maryland Hospital Center’s chief executive officer.
Five garden clubs — Antietam, Clear Spring, Crossroads, Hagerstown and Town & Country — stepped up to the challenge, which runs from April 1 to the judging on June 1.
“We left bare sites for them to design and begin planting any time,” Holzapfel said at the end of April.
Gardens will be judged on aesthetics, soil preparation and sustainability — the latter since the garden clubs will not be responsible for maintaining the sites once the judging is complete.
Pellegrino said the gardens are a place of healing that treat the mind, body and spirit, which is part of the vision of the hospital. They include a train garden, the Linn Hendershot Memorial Garden, which is almost complete, vegetable and other gardens throughout the extensive property.
“It’s a place of peace and comfort, a place for patients and their families to get away from the medical moment,” Pellegrino said.
Judges are Denny Warrenfeltz, owner of Rooster Vane Florist in Funkstown, Washington County Board of Education member Donna Brightman, who is a landscape designer/project manager, and Pellegrino.
“I think it’s an absolutely wonderful idea, a way to get things done. The contest format makes it a little more interesting,” Warrenfeltz said. “I didn’t realize until last summer when Cindy (Holzapfel) showed me around how extensive the gardens are. It’s one of those little hidden gems in Hagerstown.”
Brightman has enjoyed helping with the gardens the past several years.
“I have been working with this energetic group of Master Gardener volunteers for the past couple years and have watched the transformation of all the neglected existing gardens into well-maintained, thoughtfully designed and beautifully presented gardens,” Brightman said.
“I’m so proud of our team that does this. They have put their heart and soul in this. I don’t even know how to thank them,” Pellegrino said.
A garden tea for the patients/residents, staff and competing garden clubs will be held to announce the winning design on Wednesday, June 8, at the center.
Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)