Saturday, April 2, 2016

Jefferson County Master Gardeners in Service: The Courage Garden by Lorrie Redman

Weeping Crabapple in bloom at The Courage Garden, photo by Loretta Simms

Every day, we are surrounded by stories of violent crime. Rather than forgetting these horrific events, communities strive to bring people together to honor the victims and seek solutions. In Jefferson County, a Courage Garden was created in 1995 to help individuals remember loved ones and to remind community members that there is still work to be done. The garden provides a peaceful setting for reflection and solace. 

Calypso tulips at The Courage Garden, photo by Loretta Simms

The Courage Garden, located on the SW side of the Jefferson County Courts and Administration Building, was begun by Victim Outreach Information as a memorial to honor victims of violent crime and Jefferson County employees. There are now memorials to law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty, including: Jefferson County Sheriff Deputy Timothy Mossbrucker; Agent James Davies, Lakewood Police Department; and Sgt. Dave Baldwin, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. A gazebo was built and dedicated to Sgt. Timothy Mossbrucker with donations from all law enforcement agencies in Jefferson County.   

Since 1997, these gardens have been maintained with the cooperation of Victim Outreach Incorporated and Jefferson County Master Gardener volunteers. Judy DiCroce, a Jefferson County Master Gardener, was the original garden steward. Since her passing in 2008, Loretta Simms, also a Jefferson County Master Gardener, has continued to maintain the gardens with a dedicated group of volunteers.

The Courage Garden includes several memorial gardens with special trees and plants in each garden, a weeping crabapple in the Columbine Garden and a dwarf ornamental plum tree in the Children’s Garden. The Courage Garden showcases a variety of trees and shrubs, as well as pond and water-wise herbaceous perennials. Most plants are labeled with their common and botanical names, suitable for Zones 3-5.  The newest garden, under construction, will demonstrate Colorado native plants. 

Many changes have occurred since the garden’s origin, but the message is the same, as stated by District Attorney Katie Kurtz: “as community members, we all have a responsibility to each other, to take care of each other.” Click here to read DA Kurtz’s inspirational speech in its entirety.

The 23rd annual Courage Walk is scheduled on April 16th as part of National Crime Victims Rights Week.  The Courage Walk was started by Victim Outreach (VOI) and is now hosted by a number of  victim services programs including the DA, Lakewood and Sheriffs office victim services units, VOI, Family Tree and Intervention Services. This ½ mile walk culminates in the Courage Garden. Proceeds from this event will be used for maintenance of the garden, training victim advocate volunteers, and to help victims of crime or other traumatic events in our community.