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A Memorial Peace Garden for Wichita's VA Hospital
A Tranquil Landscape to Remember and Honor Veterans

By David W. Foster, PLA, ASLA, APA, Foster Design Associates LLC


Foster Design Associates LLC, a landscape architecture firm in Wichita, Kansas, provided pro bono design services to create a memorial peace garden on the campus of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita. Plantings included aromatic herbs (lavender 'Hidcote', mint, Rosemary, thyme and basil), perennials for color (e.g., 'Blue Chip' Buddleia, 'Happy Returns' daylilies, 'Dazzleberry' sedums, 'Alma Potschtke' asters), and plants meant to be touched: 'Lamb's Ears', 'Silver Mound' Artemesia and 'Big Blue' liriope.

Just north of Building 5 on the sprawling, bustling campus of the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas, a coalition of volunteers has created a small island of tranquility. It began as two trees in a patch of lawn, tucked between a building, a walled utility yard, and two busy entry drives. It is now the VA Memorial Peace Garden--a handicapped accessible therapeutic landscape that provides physical and emotional restoration through gentle sensory stimulation.

The Peace Garden is a serene place, with trees for dappled shade, shrubs that screen the garden from traffic on adjacent drives, a small plaza with engraved remembrance bricks, a birdbath to attract feathered friends, and most of all, quiet paths with benches in nooks where people can sit and talk. It includes herbs specifically selected for their aromatic scents, and perennials like lamb's ear, so soothing to the touch that people spontaneously pet the leaves. Veterans and volunteers enjoy the simple pleasures of growing flowers and vegetables in raised beds near the garden shed, and reconnecting with the pace of seasons and growing things.

Established through a collaboration of the Veterans Administration, community volunteers, and nearly 40 local corporate sponsors, the Dole VA Memorial Peace Garden has grown to become a cherished haven for veterans, visitors, and VA staff members. The Dole VA Memorial Peace Garden is a small green treasure, helping the VA fulfill its mission of "improving the health and well being of the veterans we are honored to serve."

As seen in LASN magazine, March 2018, Stewardship.

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November 22, 2019, 12:02 pm PDT

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