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Fockele earns national award for peace garden
Mark Fockele walks along a path through the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center North Tower. His company earned a national environmental award from the Professional Landcare Network for its work on the garden. - photo by Tom Reed | The Times

A Gainesville company has again earned national honors for its green thumb.

The Fockele Garden Co.’s design and installation of the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center has earned a Grand Award at the 2012 Environmental Improvement Awards Program sponsored by the Professional Landcare Network.

The Grand Award is PLANET’s top designation, with the Wilheit-Keys Peace Garden one of only 39 projects to receive it nationally. Fockele Garden was the only Georgia company to earn the distinction.

Anne’s Garden, also at the medical center and designed, installed and maintained by Fockele, earned a Grand Award from PLANET in 2011. Gainesville philanthropists Philip and Mary Hart Wilheit funded the garden in honor of their late parents, Tom and Jane Eve Wilheit and Jack and Mildred Keys. Both couples were avid gardeners, and the garden includes many of the plants they grew such as roses, daylilies and hydrangeas.

“Being selected to work on this garden was both a joy and a privilege,” said Mark Fockele, company president.

“We were able to incorporate the types of plants the family has always enjoyed in their home gardens. It is a garden we believe that is beneficial to the patients, their families and the staff of the medical center.”

Fockele’s first project when he founded the company in 1990 was a landscape project for Jane Eve Wilheit.

More than 100 additional types of plants are grown in the garden, each labeled with their scientific and common names.

The garden includes sustainable practices such as a permeable walkway that serves as a rainwater collection area. Rainwater is stored in underground cisterns and used for irrigation and to refill the five fountains included in the garden.

Fockele Garden Co. is a member of PLANET. The group includes more than 3,500 member companies and affiliates, representing more than 100,000 green industry professionals. Its 43-year-old Environmental Improvement Awards Program is designed to reward independent landscape professionals who execute superior projects.

For more information about The Fockele Garden Co., call 770-532-7117 or visit For more on PLANET, visit