Tucked behind the garden gazebo on the main campus, a small sanctuary has begun to grow. Over the years, and over the past year in particular, the need for a dedicated place to quietly reflect on our losses and to tap into a sense of future has been overwhelmingly apparent, thus, the Loss and Future Garden project was created.
More than a decade ago, a staff member asked for a way to commemorate the passing of her parents and a beautiful retaining wall was constructed, then, a beloved horticulture volunteer passed from cancer and a stone bench and weeping cherry tree were added. The losses continued: a resident’s father, another’s mother, grandmother, sibling, a coworker’s spouse, another’s child, then children. But no one who came to ask for a place to honor these loved ones was focused on the past, they were all looking for a sense of future.
When the Sanctuary committee asked the Adventures Program about a way to honor losses that the agency has endured over the past year, the need for a dedicated space became clear. This special garden has been supported by our community as well; the Butler Garden Club and the Oak Hills Garden Club have both contributed financially towards making this project a reality. Perennial plantings have been installed, including a “Forever Golden” Arborvitae and a captivating Weeping Cypress affectionately named Cedric. Cedric embodies both endurance and beauty through withstanding stress. With a twisted and turning trunk that reaches over the garden’s edge, Cedric embraces bypassers seeking comfort.
Hardscaping elements are being added. Stones engraved with inspirational words are permanent inhabitants of the garden, asking to be moved around the garden bed at visitors’ discretion. A stone water feature will be installed shortly, again providing an appropriate sense of both permanency and movement. Campus transformation contributed the bronze plaque of remembrance, which once sat by the labyrinth, to it’s new location as well as contributing to the overall garden design.
Please visit the garden. It is, without exception, always open, and it is here for you, no matter who you are. Please also feel free to get in touch about ways to be more involved in the garden. Pastor Chris has eagerly offered to provide reflection services in the garden, more perennial plantings are ready to be installed, and there is room for garden expansion. Looking forward, an inevitable certainty exists: our losses will continue, such is life, but, as the garden reminds us, so will our future, it’s what we make of it that matters.
Glade Run Adventures provides personalized experiences in nature, including horseback riding lessons, guided trail rides, animal care classes, gardening classes, farm to table cooking experiences and nature themed arts and crafts. These activities are prefect for families, school groups, home schoolers, girl and boy scout troops, youth groups and parties.
Glade Run Adventures is conveniently located north of Pittsburgh in Zelienople, just minutes from route 79 and Cranberry Township.
About the Author
Julie Wahlenmayer, Director of Adventures
Julie has been with Glade Run since 1996, shortly after graduating from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. Her experiences in animal and horticultural assisted therapies at Glade Run lead Julie to complete her Master’s Degree in Counseling at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Julie’s desire to connect individuals with the natural world around them, combined with her equestrian training and love of gardening, helped to shape our Adventures Program into the exemplary program that it is today. Julie’s vision for Glade Run Adventures is for it to become a model for social, emotional and physical growth and learning.