Mountain Garden Club brightens spirits for nurses during COVID-19

  • Highlands Cashiers Hospital CEO Tom Neal helped the the Mountain Garden Club assemble vases with fresh cut flowers for the HCH nursing staff.
    Highlands Cashiers Hospital CEO Tom Neal helped the the Mountain Garden Club assemble vases with fresh cut flowers for the HCH nursing staff.

The ladies of the Mountain Garden Club didn’t let a little thing called a coronavirus stand in the way showing their appreciation for nurses at the Highlands Cashiers Hospital.

According to MGC president Ellie Houston, eight garden club members spent the better part of Wednesday, May 7 assembling 98 vases filled with fresh cut flower arrangements for the nurses working the COVID-19 front. 

Houston said the act of kindness was something Mountain Garden Club did each year for the staff at Highlands Cashiers Hospital, but this year  the coronavirus made the assembling of vases a little more special.  

“We wanted to be sure to express our gratitude and appreciation for the nurses this year, especially with the social distancing,” Houston said. “We do this every year rain or shine.”

Houston wanted to deflect praise and commentary from herself to those who mattered, and those who made it happen. 

“We get a very generous gift from Richard P. Cole from Miami, Florida who owns homes in Highlands which allows us to make these arrangements,” she said.

She also expressed appreciation to HCH CEO Tom Neal and Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor who put on masks to pitch in and help out. 

“We’re very hands-on in the community and it was nice to see them come and help out,” she said. 

Neal said it was a privilege and a pleasure to assist with the flower arrangements. 

“Highlands-Cashiers Hospital has truly appreciated the generous outpouring of support we are receiving from our community,” Neal said on Monday. “Our team members are uplifted and find encouragement from the kindness our neighbors have shown us and I share their sincere gratitude

“I am so proud of the extraordinary efforts by our staff to care for and protect our patients and each other,” he said. “At HCH, we care like family and we include the people of our community in that family.” 

The Mountain Garden Club motto of “We dig. We dance. We plant a lot,” is indicative of the club’s attitude on life. 

“We all love gardening and staying busy,” Houston said.

Sadly, Houston added, this year’s iconic annual plant sale, which unofficially heralds the start of spring in the mountains has been postponed until next year. 

“We want everyone to know we are hard at work on the annual plant sale that will be returning in 2021,” Houston said. 

Another project the Mountain Garden Club was able to undertake despite the social distancing directives imposed because of the coronavirus was the beautification of the old Highlands Jailhouse located on Oak Street. 

“The Oak Street Jailhouse required total re-landscaping,” Houston said. 

Volunteers cleaned out around the base of the old cinderblock jailhouse and planted shrubs and flowers to give the area, “a more wholesome look.” 

“We are the original jailhouse rockers,” she said.