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Volunteers give new life to Augustana gardens
Sept. 7, 2015

Kristen Miller

DASSEL, MN – The landscape surrounding Augustana Health Care Center in Dassel has been transformed from an overgrown jungle to a garden oasis, due to the hardworking hands and kind hearts of local volunteers.

Glenn Schumann, who does maintenance for Augustana, saw how overgrown the garden had become in recent years and that the fish pond, which was once cared for by the senior care facility’s former administrator Bill Ward, had become a safety concern.

Knowing it would be a big job for one person to tackle, Schumann sought out the help from his wife, Julie, who then reached out to her gardener friends.

Two of the volunteers, Lori VanHorn and Jeanne Lund, are members of the Meeker County Horticulture Society. VanHorn noted how the garden had become “overwhelming,” as the day lilies and hosta plants took over. With a lot of “pretty flowers in memory of people” planted in the garden, VanHorn wanted to help “rejuvenate it and give it new life.”

Lund volunteered because she loves being outside, working in the garden, and “digging in the dirt.”

“A lot of residents liked gardening,” she said, noting the garden is nostalgic for many of them. Other volunteers included Georgiann Walker, Kathy Anderson, Jeanne Schultz, and Dave and Jan Pritchard.

The garden renovation project kicked off last summer, first by digging out much of the overgrowth down to the roots, Julie noted, then removing the fountain, which was replaced by a gazebo. Volunteer Dave Pritchard, re-purposed the fountain’s pavers in the garden as edging and art.

The volunteers also utilized a $250 donation Lund obtained from 3M for being a former employee and volunteering her time of 25 hours or more. This helped purchase a planter, perennials, and annuals to add the final touches to the garden.

To give another pleasing feature, mulch was added around all the plants to maintain moisture and deflect weed growth – 150 bags, according to Glenn’s account of carrying them.

The garden was completed this summer and was celebrated with a lemonade garden reception Aug. 28 with residents, volunteers, and community members in attendance.

Bri Wolters, Augustana administrator, commended the work of the volunteers.

“The volunteers took over and made it look fantastic,” Wolters commented.

The residents agreed.

Marian Peterson said the volunteers have “done a marvelous job, they deserve a lot of credit.” She particularly appreciates the large maple tree in the garden and the landscape that surrounds it.

Another resident, Dana Hesser said, “It’s a beautiful garden. Hats off to the volunteers.”

The volunteers are committed to maintaining the garden for years to come, and welcome others willing to assist.

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