Healing Landscape

The Betty Ann Sands Memorial Healing & Artful Landscape

Welcome to the Betty Ann Sands Memorial Healing & Artful Landscape!

The Betty Ann Sands Memorial Healing & Artful Landscape offers visitors of all abilities opportunities for exercise, creative expression, skill building, socialization and most importantly, the chance to forge a vital connection and partnership with nature. Located in Washington, NC’s historic district, three blocks from the Pamlico River, the BAS Memorial Landscape is an integral part of the Rose Haven Center of Healing, dedicated to women Veterans by advancing wellness and resilience-building Total Life Fitness (TLF) programs. 


Total Life Fitness Gymnasium

Many women Veterans suffer from trauma, or other negative experiences, while in the military. These experiences, along with gender-based social, economic, behavioral and institutional obstacles encountered after leaving the military can greatly increase stress and anxiety during reintegration into family and community life. The BAS Memorial Landscape is a welcoming and safe space that can help minimize stress and anxiety while growing life fitness across mind, body, soul and through community. The landscape acts as a life fitness gymnasium, offering elements of horticultural and creative expressive therapy design to populations experiencing emotional, cognitive, social and even physical challenges. Horticultural therapy emphasizes plant/people interactions in various treatment, rehabilitation, or vocational programs while expressive arts therapy utilizes, “the innate human desire to create and channel though music, visual arts, poetry, dance, and other artistic forms in a variety of settings to channel self-expression and help people examine their body, feelings, emotions, and thought process.” This hybrid design enables Total Life Fitness skills through wellness and resilience-building activities.

At the Rose Haven Center of Healing, there is a purposeful and intended interface of the healing elements of nature, represented by a plant dominated landscape, mindfulness, and transcendence properties of certain kinds of human activity.  This interface is represented by features such as:

  • A sensuous interaction, or lived experience with plants (planting, weeding or harvesting) and activities of creative self-expression filtered through all the human senses to also include memory and proprioception (how your brain understands where your body is in space). The “vividness” of time spent in, at and interacting with nature and self in a healing landscape. 
  • Kinetic movement through nature via accessible walkways, pathways and a garden labyrinth – promoting playfulness, mindfulness, and physical exercise while defining boundaries of spaces, activity zones and displays. These elements focus attention and energies to components and displays within the plant environment, historical context and to infrastructure and sites of creative expression.
  • Creative expression activities such as crafts and woodworking, in designated spaces out in the gardens or in the open-air barn. 
  • An abundance of interactions between plants and people that provide volunteer and more formal gardening opportunities offered in the organic raised bed produce garden as well as shrub and perennial beds throughout the healing landscape.
  • Resting and sitting areas designed for individual reflection.
  • A council ring and fire pit designed to promote community building for women Veterans involved in our Total Life Fitness programs, and other local Veteran or community groups interested in using it.
  • Healing touchstone – provides a physical, emotional, and transcendent sense of place important in healing. 
  • Subtle and occasionally overt use of metaphor Implicit in the healing blueprint to give those who visit a natural language to envision a journey of healing to themselves and others.

In addition, special events such as presentations, group tours, landscape workdays, and occasional and regularly scheduled classes encouraging all aspects and benefits of the nature/human interface – including gardening, self and group expression, movement, and more to promote the many benefits the healing landscape offers to community members

For more detailed information on specific garden features, view our garden map below.

Garden Map

Our Rose Haven Center of Healing as a concept and a place is still evolving week to week, month to month and season to season since the inception of the Gardens in Fall of 2018. The change over time has been both dramatic and subtle. The events and activities hosted in the gardens so far, socials, art exhibits, and our first concert in November, not left unmentioned, our summer vegetable harvests from our raised beds produce garden, promise a near and long term utility of the healing gardens to our mission and the Washington community. As the Haven House, then the renovation of our barn into a community center come online, the synergy between the three Center components will indeed represent a most unique and innovative approach to healing for women Veterans and others. At some point, we had to “map a line in the sand” and provide a geographical narrative of places and spaces in the gardens. To do this, we enlisted the amazing skills of Coralie Milnes, a former summer intern at Rose Haven, to create a garden map. We are ecstatic with her effort and proudly present our 2021 Betty Ann Sands Healing and Artful Gardens Cultural Map that reflects the importance of nature and creative expression to healing.  

Woodworking in the Garden

Grit Restoration

“The function of art is to satisfy the artist… The function of craft is to give meaning to the viewer and enhance the richness of their life.” – David Moser

Woodworking, like other nature/creative expression therapeutic activities featured at Rose Haven, can play a role in managing the effects of trauma such as anxiety and stress, provide new skills to be mastered, and the opportunity to create pieces of self-expression that are/can be simultaneously aesthetic and functional. Woodworking is not for everyone. Trauma survivors and those experiencing anxiety and stress from their military experiences or challenges in transition from military to civilian and/or reintegration into their families and communities can find solace and peace of mind in the visceral qualities of shaping nature’s bounty.

The GRIT Restoration (GR) program involves restoring something old and discarded and breathing new life into it. Our Haven House restoration is a good example of this. Pamlico Rose staff and volunteers are sharing the rehabilitation work with the General Contractor, having painted the exterior of the house and rebuilt windows and interior frames. Laying new floors and putting down trim and painting the interior will also be done by Pamlico Rose. GR also involves utilizing recycled/reclaimed wood taken from the Haven House’s restoration/renovation or donated to create furniture and other wood products. After the furniture is built for the Haven House, the goal is to continue to upcycle old wood into a series of furniture pieces, from coffee tables to wall hangings to be sold with the profits going to Rose Haven. The message of rebirth is implicit in GRIT Restoration, describing both the piece of furniture and the craftsperson.

Our first set of GR wood products created by PRI personnel are available for viewing and purchase at our awesome partner, Cottage Junkies. The builders/artists of the wood/art pieces included reclaimed wood from the Haven House renovation. We invite women Veterans to join our efforts and become part of GR. 

Garden Gallery


Six raised beds, built by Lucas Wood for his Eagle Scout project, form the outside boundary of the walkway that encompasses the Betty Wheeler Raised Bed Garden.  Labeled the “Seed” for its distinctive shape, the garden features a brick walkway and raised beds that allow opportunity for folks with all abilities to access, enjoy and get involved in informal or formal programs on gardening if so desired. The effort Green Agriculture Initiative for All (or GAIA, the ancient Greek mythological deity who was the mother of all life on earth) is the program dedicated to planting, growing and harvesting produce that is provided to Eagles Wings food pantry. The 2020 summer is the first season weekly donations of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and herbs were provided to Eagles Wings (see summary of the first season of harvest). 

Garden Crew

Edna Waldrop – Edna has been a volunteer for two years. She has provided her own unique perspective shaped by her decades long local gardening experience. Before retiring, Edna was an art teacher and that creative expression is ever-present. Edna enjoys all kinds of music played while gardening or no music at all. Nobody has ever seen Edna in the gardens without a smile. 

Mary Lynn Smart – Mary Lynn is a recent addition to our garden crew. She is a wonderfully curious and dedicated gardener. No task is too big, nor too small; Mary Lynn treats both with the same resolve and thoroughness. Thus, she has become equally an adept bricklayer and a willing pair of hands to tackle old growth clearance.  

Becky Hinsey – Becky is a seasoned gardener with several years working for one of the preeminent landscapers in Maine. Like her brother Robert Greene Sands, Becky comes by her “gardening” chops through her mother, Betty Ann Sands, also the namesake of Rose Haven’s healing landscape. Since 2018, Becky has worked closely with Robert in the design and development of many facets of the gardens, both remotely and in person. Becky’s personal experience through recovery informs her approach to garden design and gardening as a healing, mindful and self-expressive ongoing journey. 

Stasia Kahn, M.D. – Stasia is an internist and approaches the practice of medicine based on an underlying foundation of wellness and her attention to the health benefits of sustainable and organic gardening. Stasia sits on the BoD of the non-profit Sustain Dupage and joins her sister Becky and brother Robert in supporting the Betty Ann Sands Healing and Artful Gardens. Stasia is exploring alternative garden methods, such as hydroponics and aeroponics, and is writing a periodic column on sustainable and organic gardening for interested readers titled: One primary care doctor’s journey to growing and eating sustainably (and saving the planet). Take a tour of Stasia’s Aeroponics Garden.

Robert (Rob) Greene Sands, PhD – The CEO of Pamlico Rose Institute, and anthropologist, Robert conceptualized the healing landscape to be integral component of the Rose Haven Center of Healing. He worked with landscape architect Rich Pracopcyx on the initial gardens design in 2018 when the space was adjacent empty lots wildly overgrown from years of neglect. Sands’s career included seven years working in cultural and historic preservation and he applied the sense and importance of “place” to the healing landscape where nature, creative expression, movement and community intersect in distinct yet connected areas of the gardens. From his anthropology, Robert saw the design and development/construction of the gardens lending itself to the power of metaphor, especially poignant to the community of women Veterans, many struggling with the effects of trauma who will spend time in the gardens. Since that initial design, Sands, with the help of this garden crew, and others who came before them, worked daily for two years, toiling in the dirt, re-designing and adapting the gardens to meet a dynamic mission and recorded that evolution in ample imagery.  Many of those images have been included in Facebook posts.

Ray Midgett – Ray provides captivating aerial imagery of the healing landscape. Since the beginning days of the gardens, when it was just a paver walkway, Ray has expertly flown his drone in and around the many different arboreal, hedges and shrubbery obstacles that make the gardens a healing experience but often poses risks and challenges, even for the best of drone operators. Since 2018, Ray has flown every season. Thanks to Ray, we have an ongoing aerial diary charting the evolution of the healing landscape. 

Bella, the wonder puppy – Every day it is a gardens day, Bella is already out the door, impatiently waiting for Rob at the 2010 KIA SUV and Center work vehicle to let her in so they can get over to the Center. She protects the garden crew from marauding birds, squirrels and the occasional overly aggressive Monarch butterfly, and naps.

Everyday, our work, for all of us really our play, in the gardens rests on the shoulders, strong backs and passion of those who have given time, sweat and effort over the last two years to help create our healing landscape. Mere mention of their names inspire us to greater heights: Emily, Jensen, Herb, Sisters Barrett and LuBean, Lucas, the builder of our raised beds, our Washington College Interns, Kim and Coralie, Yasmine, Gavin, Laura, Elise, Alex, Allison, Greg, Kelly, David, BR, DAV Chapter #48 and workday efforts by IDX, Women and Gender Office at East Carolina University Alternative Break Experience (ABE) and Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement. is

Volunteer Information

How to Volunteer

  • Contact kaitlyn@pamlicorose.org or Robert@pamlicorose.org
  • Visit the Rose Haven House at 219 E 3rd Street Washington North Carolina. 

Potential Responsibilities

  • Social Media – posting and updating
  • Working in the garden – weeding, painting, gardening, bricklaying, and more!
  • Volunteer and more formal gardening opportunities offered in the Seed Garden as well as in the shrub and perennial beds throughout the healing landscape

Why Volunteer?

  • Volunteering with Pamlico Rose at the Rose Haven Center of Healing provides you with opportunities to help women Veterans, engage with the healing gardens, and learn hands on practical skills like woodworking, and gardening
  • By volunteering, you will also be helping an under-served and at risk population, as well as supporting the community in Washington, NC
  • Increase wellness and helps you build resilience
    • Personal benefit
    • When you’re helping others, you’re helping yourself
  • Community service hours for volunteer credit for a school or organization may also be available
  • Earn a free T-Shirt 
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