Palmerston North volunteers ensure hospice patients enjoy flowers and fragrance - Arohanui Hospice

Palmerston North volunteers ensure hospice patients enjoy flowers and fragrance

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Palmerston North volunteers ensure hospice patients enjoy flowers and fragrance

Every room in Arohanui Hospice looks out into the extensive gardens that surround the facility. From almost every window, you can see the lovingly maintained landscape which is positively packed with flowers, fragrance and foliage.

Arohanui Hospice’s volunteer coordinator Jill Rolls says that patients and their families frequently mention how much comfort and resilience they have drawn at a stressful and sad time from spending time in such a beautiful, peaceful space.

Local woman Karen Morley is one of the 33 volunteers who help maintain the hospice grounds, and she has been helping in the gardens there for more than 16 years.

“Everything you can grow in Palmerston North grows here,” Morley says. “There are a lot of flowers, trees and shrubs. There are curved walkways with garden all around them. There are areas of lawn with seats on them. There are a lot of roses, beautiful cherry and crabapple blossom, hardy old things like daylilies and stuff. Just everything.”

One of the reasons for the variety on display is that the large gardens are actually divided up among the volunteers, who maintain a specific space – larger or smaller depending on their availability and energy. “Your patch might be as big as your lounge,” Morley says. “Or twice the size of your whole house footprint. And so people put their own imprint on their patch. They bring in stuff from home, or buy things that they think will look nice. They put their heart into it.”

…People put their own imprint on their patch. They bring in stuff from home, or buy things that they think will look nice. They put their heart into it.

Volunteers also include Neil Andrews, Michael Barnes, Charles Bethune, Karen Bowles, Dave Chapman, Dianne Crombie, Marama Deane, Paddy Gildea, Allan Inglis, Stuart Ingram, Peter Joe, Richard Kennedy, Kathryn MacManus, Karen Morley, Bev O’Connell, Mike O’Connell, Owen Pedersen, Jill Robson, Kevin Rolls, Kathryn Simmonds, Adrian Turner, Greg Wilkinson, Jenny Williamson, Ken Wilson, Marion Wilson and Moana Woods.

“It’s a very friendly and chatty group,” Morley adds. “Everyone helps each other. And you’re proud to think it might help other people too.”

The Arohanui Hospice volunteers are finalists in NZ Gardener magazine’s 2021 Ryman Healthcare Gardener of the Year competition.

This story was originally written by Jo McCarroll and published 4 November 2021 on stuff.co.nz. Photo credit to David Unwin.