Volunteer flower garden in Blacksburg blossoms to benefit community

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BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - It started as a hobby.

"That's how this sort of emerged, just sort of this desire to raise money for the church and then take advantage of a hobby that we both really enjoy," said Megan Dickhans of her and her husband's love of gardening.

Their hobby blossomed into much more.

"It was trial and error and just playing at home. I mean really we just sort of went in headfirst," she said.

Megan and Jim Dickhans started a flower garden on about a half an acre of land at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Blacksburg. Along with the Dickhans, nearly 50 volunteers spend time each week planting, weeding, watering, cutting, wrapping and selling after weekend mass through the season.

Handheld bouquets cost $8, while a bouquet in vase costs $10.

The volunteers contribute where they can, Some spend two to three days tending to the garden, while others spend Saturday mornings cutting and arranging the bouquets. They also spend time outside the church after Saturday and Sunday Mass to sell the week's arrangements.

Jim Dickhans even delivers to co-workers at his office at Virginia Tech.

"It's something they always look forward to," he said. "Usually about June everyone at work starts asking, 'Is it flower season yet? Is it flower season yet?"

He's become the "flower guy" around campus.

"I am the flower guy. And that's what everyone doesn't understand, I'm also a florist in my spare time," he joked.

The couple raised $11,000 in the garden's first two years. They expect to raise another $5,000 this year. That money goes to His Hands, another budding ministry at St. Mary's that does projects for parishioners. Volunteers do everything from hanging curtains to replacing siding on a home.

"We can go out there and do it for them and not ask for a penny," said Rick DiSalvo who leads His Hands. "We just get out there and make it happen for them. It's just such a happy and fulfilling feeling, that you've done something good."

Megan Dickhans said it's a way for her to indulge in her hobby and do so much more.

"In some ways I get to indulge and I feel very blessed in that way. But to be able to give back adds a lot more depth to it. It gives it a lot more purpose."