During her time at Covenant Care's Dulcina Hospice, Hallan Gurcharn loved visiting the tranquil outdoor garden sanctuary. It brought her peace and comfort.
“Our mom loved flowers and gardens, so her being able to enjoy them brought enormous comfort to our family,” says Hallan’s daughter, Kanwal Roycombough, who was with her mother when she passed away recently.
The sprawling, lush St. Marguerite Manor Garden is a shared space with Dulcina Hospice. It features an impressive rock and water feature, a gazebo with stained glass windows and many types of flowers and plants. Kanwal says she and her mother also enjoyed observing the birds and rabbits found in the garden, as well as seeing the other families find comfort in the space.
“It brings comfort to everyone and provides opportunities to reflect and find peace,” says Theresa Bellows, volunteer and activity coordinator at Dulcina Hospice. “We have families who stay in hospice with their loved one for weeks. The gardens bring comfort not just for the person dying but for family too.”
For many residents in hospice, gardens were part of their lives.
The garden is sometimes included in people’s end-of-life goals. Access to the outside allows for residents’ beds to be rolled out into the garden and the gazebo. Some residents have requested to be taken there when it’s their time to die.
Kathy Wong has volunteered in the garden for three growing seasons. She works alongside three other volunteers to plant and maintain the garden.
“All four of us just love gardening but also love the idea of participating in something with the community,” says Kathy. “The sense of satisfaction is enormous. To see families with their loved ones out in the garden — it’s a really awesome feeling that we can provide comfort to the families in a different way.”
The garden was initially made possible by a gift from the Storoshenko family to the Covenant Foundation in memory of Rose and Alex Storoshenko, a husband and wife who passed away at Dulcina Hospice in June 2017. A rose garden was initially planted in Rose's honour.
During the pandemic, volunteers have remained outside the building, working in the garden and seeking other support.
“The community has really come together with financial donations and plants we could incorporate,” Kathy says. Last year, the volunteers went to the gardening community looking for more plants. “We were completely overwhelmed with the response and perennial plants from people’s own gardens. It made people feel good that they were donating to the hospice. It really touched their hearts.”
Theresa agrees that community support has been invaluable. “I think it’s really important to share how much this garden has come from donations. The garden is completely donation and volunteer driven. We simply would not have this for our patients and families without community and volunteers.”