2011-11-17 / Local & State

Fulton Co. Master Gardeners Take On FCMC Landscaping Project

By Monica Schall

Fulton County Medical Center front entrance garden Fulton County Medical Center front entrance garden The fundraising and subsequent building of a new medical facility was a major accomplishment for the small, mostly rural population of Fulton County, but one that we were justifiably proud of. The initial landscape plan was to create a pleasant, natural “meadow” look that would have been both low maintenance and would fit well into the rolling beauty of Fulton County’s hills. However, the design concept never developed and the campus was mostly covered with knee-high weeds, a few chicory, rudbeckia and some struggling trees.

The local Penn State Master Gardeners and a group from the Medical Center were frustrated that the plan hadn’t materialized and in the spring of 2011 they formed a committee to begin to re-do the landscaping surrounding the building. Working together as a team, the committee was composed of several master gardeners, including an experienced landscape designer, the maintenance staff and garden committee from the Medical Center. Some local nursery owners also aided in the effort.

Long Term Care meditation garden Long Term Care meditation garden Planning began in May with the garden immediately in front of the building. This was a particularly challenging effort because of the extreme conditions this area faced. It was blasted with full sun, lots of wind, the topsoil had been removed and going right through the middle was a low, wet zone!

It was difficult to achieve a showy, impressive entrance garden that would survive in these conditions. The group decided on a subtle color scheme of pinks and purples using knockout roses, catmint, liriope, grasses and various other shrub materials to accentuate and add to the design theme.

Because of unavoidable scheduling, the actual planting was done on May 26, in 90- degree weather, and was subsequently faced with terribly hot and dry conditions for basically the next two months. Only because of the efforts of the Medical Center staff and dedicated master gardeners, the garden survived and began to show great improvement around August.

The second phase of the current project involved a total of five garden areas, all located at the long-term care entrance. The goal for this planting was to achieve a more overall colorful effect and to also create a meditation garden where it would be possible to sit quietly in a somewhat private area. Plant materials were discussed, and again chosen for their adaptability to the hot, dry and windy site, for their color and to provide a screen. This garden area was established in mid September. Garden mums were added for additional color and finally bulbs were planted in all the gardens for spring blooms.

Throughout the entire effort, in addition to planning and implementing, the master gardeners educated hospital staff and even the general public in a variety of horticulture topics.

The project has received continuous public support and Fulton County Medical Center recently began a fundraising campaign to capitalize on that enthusiasm. It is now possible to dedicate a tree or planting as a memorial for a loved one and support the landscaping effort. Encouraged by what they have seen, the public’s response has been good.

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