The Compass Rose Garden at Veterans Healing Farm

In 2017, we installed a rose garden at the Veterans Healing Farm in Hendersonville to help improve the drainage in an area of the farm’s land that wasn’t a favorable spot for growing. With its raised beds and compass rose design, the garden has grown to be a beautiful and meaningful addition to the property.

Veterans Healing Farm (VHF) is a non-profit organization that seeks to help military veterans reenter civilian life after their service. VHF offers veterans training in various things, support, donations of the produce grown on the farm, and most importantly, a sense of community with their fellow veterans.

It was important to us to install a rose garden that was both attractive and functional. We wanted it to have a special significance to the farm and its visitors, while providing learning opportunities for VHF volunteers, and also making great use of an otherwise unusable area of the farm.

Building the Compass Rose Garden

The area where we installed VHF’s rose garden was right in the center of the property. The spot had drainage issues, as it was set low into the water table. There’s a river in close proximity that made the area ripe with good soil, but without proper drainage, nothing would grow there.

To remedy the situation and to make the area functional, we looked back to South American history. Ancient South Americans had an innovative water management technique that would work for the project at VHF. They used an intricate canal system to capture water and hold fish. Once a year, they would drain the canals, and scoop up the good, rich soil at the bottom to use on top of their gardens. The soil and sediment that collected there throughout the year was ideal for growing produce, but they never would’ve gotten to it, had they not learned to drain the canals and collect it.

The situation at VHF was similar. The ground had great soil from 100 years of intermittent flooding. But there wasn’t proper drainage, which plants also need to grow. The rose garden had to be raised up out of the water table, but also needed to take advantage of the rich soil at ground level. The solution was to scoop up the topsoil, add biochar, compost, and minerals in, and then pile it up to make the four raised beds that make up the compass rose design. With raised beds, the roses bushes have proper drainage and three feet of rich soil where their roots can thrive.

The Rose Garden Withstands Harsh Weather and Flooding

Last year, there were multiple flash flooding events that occurred in the Hendersonville area. The flooding was catastrophic – the worst that had been experienced in the area for decades. Two of those events happened at the beginning of the planting season and they wiped out the garden plants at Veterans Healing Farm. They were forced to replant each time there was flooding that destroyed the crops.

The Compass Rose Garden though, was able to survive the storms and flooding. The area itself was under two and half feet of water, but because of the raised beds and healthy plants, the roses never suffered. And, as soon as the rains were over, the garden was able to drain properly. As a result, the roses are incredibly beautiful, healthy, and thriving.

A Special Meaning of the Compass Rose Garden

Not only is the rose garden at VHF beautiful, it holds a special meaning to the veterans and volunteers who visit and work there. The design of the garden is that of a compass rose, which is the symbol on a compass or map that shows the orientation of the directions (north, south, east, and west). On maps and compasses, the rose symbol is set to true north.  The rose garden at VHF represents that as one of the four raised triangle planters also points to true north.

Since the installation of the Compass Rose Garden, a fire pit has been added to the center of the garden where visitors can gather to share their stories and support one another. It’s a wonderful opportunity for them to also find their new sense of direction – their true north. It’s a meaningful metaphor for what the VHF strives to do every day.

The rose garden at VHF is also significant to us at Ambrose Landscapes. It’s always our goal to provide our clients with landscaping features that have both form and function. It was rewarding for our team to be able to gift Veterans Healing Farm with a meaningful design, functional structure, and a beautiful final product, where they can gather and enjoy their community.