Unique eight-acre space provides plenty of room to relax and reflect

Michigan is a beautiful place to live, and Michiganders are lucky to have so many perfect places to visit all throughout the year.

Arbor Hospice, headquartered in Ann Arbor, maintains nearly a dozen different gardens on eight acres of land at the headquarters it shares with Hospice of Michigan. The gardens serve as a space for taking a morning walk or evening stroll, and also offer a place for healing, meditation, relaxion and reflection. Volunteers are always needed to help maintain the gardens, and all 11 of them are available for people in the community to enjoy, regardless of whether a loved one has ever received care from Arbor Hospice.

The Gardens of Arbor Hospice have provided a peaceful, educational and meditative space for families served by Arbor Hospice, as well as the community, for nearly two decades. There are more than 200 pleasing plants to view throughout the garden including:

  • Bridge of Hope Garden: A lush garden with a variety of plants, shrubs and trees. In the center of the garden sits a peaceful water feature that provides a calming backdrop for introspection.
  • Five Senses Garden: Features an abundance of plants designed to stimulate a multi-sensory experience. Visitors ae encouraged to interact with the plants in this garden, experiencing it through sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.
  • Kamisar Garden: Noted for its expansive pergola that includes a beautiful swing and ample seating. The Kamisar Garden space is also where visitors are welcome to spend quiet moments of contemplation and mediation while admiring nature and the surrounding wildlife.
  • Michigan Native Plants Memorial Walk: Native plants from Michigan sit along this memorial walk and help increase connection to nature, educate the community and provide a beautiful, peaceful place to relax. The native plants also attract a variety of animals, birds and butterflies while enhancing the biodiversity of the area.
  • Vera James Curtiss Garden: This garden stands as a loving tribute to a mother who was cared for by Arbor Hospice. The focal point of this mature garden is an arbor with hops and clematis vines climbing throughout. Daffodils welcome the spring, giving way to a colorful assortment of annuals and perennials that provide continual color and life.
  • Veterans Memorial Garden: This lovely garden surrounds a majestic flag pole and includes benches for serene reflection and landscaping that symbolizes the lyrics of “America the Beautiful.” The area is also used for various veteran ceremonies.

For the past two years, master gardener Deb Emmons has maintained the serene and beautiful gardens on the grounds of Oak Valley. She’s always enjoyed gardening, spending much of her life doing it as a hobby – but it wasn’t until after she retired from her position she held for 20 years at Northville Public Schools that the decided to pursue gardening as another job.

“There was a master gardener at Oak Valley before I came here, but that was from a while back – so the plants and grounds were a bit overgrown,” Deb says. “After I retired, I saw this opening at Oak Valley, and I jumped at the opportunity to apply.”

It’s not easy maintaining the 11 gardens on campus; it takes dedicated volunteers to assist in keeping them tidy throughout the year, including the Good Times Garden Club, which is a group of gardeners that oversee three of the gardens at Oak Valley.

“The Good Times Garden Club has taken care of a few of our gardens for at least the last ten years, if not longer,” said Deb. “They’re just one of the organizations that come together to keep these places looking beautiful.”

Another group that regularly visits the Oak Valley Gardens is volunteers from the Ford Foundation. They do extensive work with building and maintaining the structures on the grounds, including the recent preparation for a Compost Education Center. Ford Fund volunteers are also planning to build an arbor for the Five Senses Garden, as well as repair and paint an existing arbor.

Additional future plans for the gardens include:

  • Establishing a compost education center, open to the community for composting and recycling;
  • Creating a booklet highlight all of the specific plants residing in each garden;
  • Installing labels throughout the gardens to identify each of the plants, and;
  • Installing a series of physical fitness stations for community use.

All of the gardens are available for the community to use, at any time. Arbor Hospice also seeks assistance from volunteers to help maintain the appearance of these beautiful gardens so they can continue to provide a place of comfort, as well as education, for years to come. To volunteer to work in the gardens, contact Deb Emmons at demmons@arborhospice.org.

For more information about Arbor Hospice, including additional volunteer opportunities, please visit https://www.arborhospice.org/.

About Arbor Hospice

Arbor Hospice, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, provides quality, compassionate care for those experiencing life-limiting illnesses throughout Washtenaw County and surrounding communities. A founding member of the NorthStar Care Community, Arbor offers certified community-based and inpatient hospice services and palliative care through NorthStar Palliative Care, as well as grief support services and community education programs. Through other NorthStar Care Community members, Arbor also provides pediatric hospice care and compassionate support services through Jo Elyn Nyman Anchors Programs for Children and education programs for physicians and health care professionals through the NorthStar Institute. The NorthStar Care Community also includes Hospice of Michigan. In total, NorthStar Care Community members serve nearly 5,100 patients annually across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. For more information, visit www.arborhospice.org or call 888-992-2273.

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