BENNINGTON -- People who have lost loved ones will have a chance to plant flowers in their honor next Sunday at the "Tree of Hope Memorial Service."

Mary Pleasant, hospice volunteer and bereavement coordinator for the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Southwestern Vermont Health Care said the annual event has been going on for at least 13 years, and is a simple affair that draws between 30 and 50 people.

The event is held at the VNA Memorial Garden at 1128 Monument Ave. It will be at 3 p.m. this year. Pleasant said those who attend may have flowers planted in the name of their lost loved one by calling her at 802-447-4567. The person being honored with flowers may also have his or her name read aloud.

Folks can also bring their own flowers to plant, and many do. The garden is rife with bleeding-hearts and forget-me-nots. Pleasant said annuals and perennials all have homes in the garden and it's interesting to see what comes up and blooms each year.

Anyone can honor a person, be they lost grandparents, parents, friends, or spouses, said Pleasant. About half of those who attend had loved ones in hospice care.

The event opens with poetry readings, then come the plantings and the readings of names. The hospice's Serenity Singers, a group that sings for hospice patients, will be there.

The event ends with refreshments and people getting together to talk, said Pleasant. Sometimes they discuss hospice care, and the VNA is there to provide information about its other bereavement services.

Those include an adult bereavement support group which meets every Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in the Crisp Room at the Vermont Veterans Home, 325 North St.

Pleasant said those who call her can also learn more about getting a one-on-one meeting with a bereavement counselor. There are also volunteers trained in bereavement support who are available to meet with people.

"Our hospice families come first, but should anyone in the community need support we will go out to them," Pleasant said.

The VNA and Hospice of SVHC makes 30,000 home visits a year and serves the towns of Bennington, North Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.