Researchers continue to find a link between nature and healing. The outdoors is said to bring relief to a variety of symptoms, reduce stress and improve a person’s overall sense of well-being and hopefulness.

Patricia Buschette, of Renville, had this in mind, along with the loving memory of her mother, when she decided to move forward on the funding of a special healing garden at the RC Hospital in Olivia. The garden, called Alma’s Garden, is dedicated to her mother.

Alma’s Garden is getting better each year as the flowers, shrubs and trees mature. Contributed photo

“My mother, Alma (Gaukstad) Lien, led a life of quiet simplicity,” said Buschette. “She didn’t demand anything of life but lived her life fully.  She loved her children and grandchildren and was always ready to be of service in any way she could. She was not a person who sought or welcomed public acclaim, and she held her family and close friends in esteem. Her life had not been easy. I wanted to create something grand and beautiful that would celebrate her life.”

As a member of the RC Hospital Foundation board, she thought of what she could do to enhance the new hospital (which opened in 2015).

“My husband and I wished  to contribute to the construction of the hospital,” she said. “I can tell you exactly when I knew what I wanted to do. I was standing on a walkway in my garden, and in one startling moment, I knew. It was here where God’s creation met human creativity. As I looked around at the garden, there was a sense of peace and contentment. The land I had inherited, land that had been in the family for four generations, was a worthy investment in creating that peace and contentment for others in the name of someone who understood the serenity of God’s creation.”

Plans for the garden were made in 2013, ahead of the hospital’s construction. But completion of the gardens was slowed considerably by the construction of the hospital, as heavy equipment compacted the ground and made work on the garden difficult.

“On the day of the ribbon cutting (of the hospital), the garden was not the beautiful site promised, but rubble,” said Patricia. “I had envisioned the Hanging Gardens of Babylon but was met with the Badlands of South Dakota.”

Buschette was crushed, but eventually, the garden was constructed.

“Each year the trees, shrubs and plants grow, and the garden has become closer to what I envisioned,” she said.

There was no official opening of the garden, but Patricia hopes more and more people will discover and celebrate the garden as years go by.

“It is beautiful, and it is my wish that it be shared with many so they may experience its beauty,” she said. “And in doing so, pay tribute to Alma Lien.”

Alma’s Garden is open to anyone who wishes to enjoy the beauty of the garden. It is located on the RC Hospital campus, 100 Healthy Way, in Olivia

About Alma

Alma Gaukstad was born April 9, 1919, in Franklin, Minnesota, the daughter of Ingeborg and Nels Gaukstad.  She was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith, attended country school, and graduated from Franklin High School.

On Dec. 1, 1939, she married Carlyle Lien, of Renville. She was a longtime member of First Lutheran in Renville and belonged to the Legion and Sons of Norway auxiliaries. Carlyle Lien died June 17, 1956. Alma Lien died on January 22, 1986, at the age of 67.

Alma’s Garden is located on the campus of RC Hospital in Renville. Contributed photo

An important part of her life was the neighborhood group of women who would meet in each other’s homes. Over the years there were many memories made as they gathered to study and to socialize. A special friend was Mabel Agar, her aunt through marriage. It was Mabel Agar’s  bequest of land  to Alma and her daughters that made this garden possible.

Alma suffered the loss of an infant son and a son who died while in the service of his country. Her husband died when she was 37, leaving her with four young children. It was her faith and courage that molded her into the person she was.

Disabling rheumatoid arthritis kept her from strenuous physical activity, and in the later years, she did not have a garden. However, the few plants at her front door were important to her, and she enjoyed the beauty of nature. An accomplished seamstress, she sewed clothes for her children and grandchildren that were creatively designed and constructed.

About Patricia

Patricia is a fourth-generation member of the Renville area community. She and her husband, Francis “Butch” Buschette, live in rural Renville. They have three children and six grandchildren. She enjoys gardening, writing, travel and photography. She is a retired paralegal, congressional staffer and lobbyist. She worked for five years in Washington, D.C., primarily on agricultural issues. Writing is one of her greatest interests. She has edited an oral history As I Remember… The Celebration of a Community, and released her novel, Locked up in Frost, in 2017.