Arlington’s Halquist Inpatient Center of Capital Caring, the only non-profit hospice in Northern Virginia, can be an emotionally difficult place to work, visit, and live. The six-person landscaping volunteer committee comes together to ensure that all people affected by the center — patients, employees and its neighbors — have natural gifts that make this phase of life a little more peaceful.
Saturday, May 3, was the landscaping committee’s 30th annual plant sale. The committee, which has maintained the Hospice’s well-manicured and flowered grounds for 30 years, funds its own efforts completely and raised about $3,000 this year at the sale.
“It was a good turnout with a couple hundred people there,” Diane Oermann, head of the Landscaping Committee, said. “We vary from year to year, but there are from 100 to 150 types of plants. There were trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and herbs.”
Oermann said the annual plant sale has blossomed into something beautiful over the past three decades. It’s a good thing because the all-volunteer committee funds the landscaping efforts completely.
“In the beginning we did it from no money,” Oermann said. “People dug up things in their yard. At first all we had to sell was liriope and hostas. As the years went on, we wanted to improve the grounds further so we have added many beds.”
The landscaping committee procures the plants for the annual sale from volunteers, suppliers, and even from the hospice gardens.
“One year we had a lady who provided a bunch of vegetable seedlings,” Oermann said. “It changes from time to time. Some of the plants are divisions from the hospice grounds themselves. A lot of things come from landscape volunteers. We cannibalize our own yards. We also have a supplier to provide some of the other things.”
The landscaping is an important element of the Arlington hospice, and patients appreciate the natural aesthetic appeal it provides. One element of the garden in particular plays a major role.
“The landscape is an important part of the hospice itself,” Oermann said. “It is mainly for the patients. There is even a gazebo to accommodate two hospital beds. We have patient weddings there, baptisms and some have requested to pass away in the gazebo.”
While predominantly for patients, the gardens are also a retreat for staff members who need a break from difficult moments.
“It’s a nice place to contemplate, and this staff works under a lot of stress,” Oermann said. “The landscape restores peoples’ spirits.”
Malene Davis, president and CEO of Capital Caring at large, said the landscaping of the Halquist center is an example of the love and support of volunteers in the surrounding Community.
"At Capital Caring, our volunteers are very important to our commitment of providing world class care and service to our patients and their families,” Davis said. “My hat is off to the Arlington community and our team of volunteers for creating a beautiful garden and grounds at our Halquist Inpatient Center. From the day the former Woodlawn Elementary School was gifted as a place to provide the best in care, the armies of compassion in the Arlington community have been paramount to our mission of simply improving care to those with advanced illness.”
The overall community support, Oermann added, has been crucial to the blooming and growing garden.
“The immediate community associate, the Waycroft Woodland Civic Association, has been great, and we get people who help from all over Falls Church, Alexandria, Fairfax County, and throughout Arlington,” Oermann said. “We really appreciate the community’s support.”
The landscape volunteers are Wink Harned, Joe Pimenta, Kathryn Lahn, John Lynn and Bill Marshuetz. They work every Saturday of the year February through December to ensure the beauty of Halquist is suitable for its patients, staff and residential neighbors.