The Big One: Peace of mind

May 10, 2019 -  By

Location: Gainesville, Ga.
Company: The Fockele Garden Co.

In 2007, Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) enlisted landscape architects and designers to conceptualize landscapes for its regional medical centers. The designs included gardens that would provide places of hope and healing.

Mark Fockele, owner of The Fockele Garden Co., says there were two things that helped his company secure the project. It would handle the design/build, in conjunction with HGOR Planners & Landscape Architects, and the maintenance of the gardens. It also asked the hospital to fund an endowment, the income from which would be set aside to ensure the gardens received high-quality maintenance well into the future.

At NGHS Gainesville, the therapeutic gardens see a high volume of visitors and patients. Water features require careful maintenance, and irrigation is adjusted to accommodate changes as the gardens mature. Maintenance managers and technicians visit the gardens weekly. Noise-free zones require handwork only, and crews are mindful of NGHS policies and any practices or products that can be a hazard to patients.

By articulating and providing landscape management services, the company supports NGHS’ aim to create comforting environments for people seeking wellness.
The project earned The Fockele Garden Co. a 2018 Gold Award from the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Awards of Excellence program.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

The complex plant palette at the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden makes visitors stop and take notice. Designers inspect the gardens frequently to counsel the Northeast Georgia Health System in horticultural improvements. The Fockele Garden Co.’s landscape management team ensures the design intent is preserved.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Since its installation in 2011, the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden has received weekly maintenance visits. Plant growth has been enhanced through soil nutrient building, mulching and expert pruning. More than 100 different plant varieties were used.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

In 2008, it was hard to imagine this sunny bowl could accommodate shaded seating and a year-round quilt of color and textures. Hospital staff members walk the oval and count the laps for exercise. Patients in wheelchairs can access the garden from a ground floor entrance.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

The pathways in the Peace Garden wind along five cobbled water walls. Water-loving plants are tucked into pockets on the faces of the fountains. Plants above the water walls drape into the tumbling water, and ground covers thriving on either side create lush frames for the features.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

The family that provided the funding and inspiration for this family garden continues to participate in the design of the garden. Over the years, additions have included a giant frog, a book box library, a shade structure and commemorative bricks. The garden is accessed through the labor and delivery pavilion and provides a safe place for children to wait for new family members.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

To maintain perennial color, The Fockele Garden Co.’s crews are trained in managing the 60 different kinds of plants that make the view of Anne’s Garden great, whether one is standing on the sidewalk or looking from the lobby on the sixth floor above.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Anne’s Garden now meets the goal of the conceptual planners and thrills the donor who provided the funding.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

The Fockele Garden Co.’s first priority when timing weekly maintenance activities is to respect the needs of the visitors.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

The Pope Family Garden, enclosed on all sides, is a terrarium for exotic plants, including big leaf magnolias, a bald cypress, windmill palms and prima donna-like lilies. Since children would be scavenging through the garden in search of small animal sculptures, every plant that was installed or added was screened for toxicity. Crystals hanging from tree limbs glitter at night when the photovoltaic sensors turn the tree lights on.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

The Christian-David Family Pet Park is a fenced garden that provides a place where patients can visit their own pet. Plants that are neither toxic to animals nor sensitive to animal waste are used. Chemicals are not applied in this garden. A topiary schnauzer and a moss dog and cat are kept trimmed and fluffy.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

The installation of the Frost Fountain involved designing a pump and filter system that is housed in a vault 50 feet away. The marble panels were carved by a studio in China and installed by a Fockele Garden Co. crew. The company’s designers and stone masons created the bluestone centerpiece, and the company’s crews installed and maintain LED lighting in the basin and around the marble base.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Working closely with the artist that designed the bas relief in the marble panels, The Fockele Garden Co.’s designers choose and plan the placement of the annuals planted each season. Like all the fountains on the NGHS campuses, the water remains clean with weekly treatments.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

Photo: The Fockele Garden Co.

The peace garden at the main entrance was designed to greet visitors with variety in color and texture during every season. Hand pruning promotes plant health and allows each shrub to retain its natural and interesting form.

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