The Fockele Garden Company recently completed the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center, giving the patients, their families, and the hospital staff a new place to relax, reflect and enjoy the outdoors.

It is the second therapeutic garden designed and installed by The Fockele Garden Company at the medical center. It is a wonderful companion to Anne’s Garden, a healing garden installed in 2009.  Each of these two gardens is highly individual and personal, reflecting both the interests and values of the donors.

Gainesville philanthropists Philip and Mary Hart Wilheit funded the garden in honor of their late parents Tom and Jane Eve Wilheit and Jack and Mildred Keys.  Both couples were avid gardeners and the garden includes many of the species of plants they cherished and grew themselves such as roses, daylilies, and hydrangeas.

There are more than 100 additional types of plants included in the garden.  Each type of plant is labeled with both scientific and common names.  Five fountains are placed throughout the garden providing both interesting architectural features as well as the sound of water splashing on stone.  The fountains are part of an overall conceptual plan provided by the landscape architecture firm Hughes, Good, O’Leary, and Ryan.  The detailed layout and planting design was provided by The Fockele Garden Company co-owners Mark Fockele and Julie Evans.  Complete construction of the garden was provided by The Fockele Garden Company staff. 

Working closely with the garden donors, The Fockele Garden Company designed a place that offers a peaceful and inviting atmosphere, and at the same time includes sustainable practices such as a permeable walkway that serves as a rainwater collection area.  Rainwater is stored in underground cisterns and is used for irrigation as well as refill water for the five fountains. 

“Though it was just recently completed, the garden is already a popular gathering spot,” Evans said. “You regularly see visitors strolling through the garden enjoying the plantings, water features, and seating areas. We enjoy overhearing visitor responses to the garden atmosphere.  The best complement you can receive about your work is a spontaneous response from a visitor that identifies the garden intention based on the individuals’ uninhibited experience.”

Coincidentally, Mark Fockele’s first project when he founded The Fockele Garden Company in 1990 was a landscape project for Jane Eve Wilheit.  “After all these years in business, being selected to work on this garden was both a joy and a privilege,” Fockele said. “Our ongoing maintenance of the garden will allow optimum development for the plantings over the next three to five years. We look forward to what this garden will become.”