Garden spaces should have qualities that give special meaning to those that live in or visit them. Recently I was given the opportunity to design a very unique space created by the expansion of a hospital complex. It isn’t a large area, only measuring 27′ x 30′, defined by four brick walls. The garden space was part of the original hospital built in the 1930’s and designed by a Catholic Nun who was part of the nursing staff.
Two additions , one in the 60’s the other in the 70’s, engulfed the small garden and few of the current staff even know it exist. It can be seen from the rooms high above and only accessed via a maze of hallways and equipment rooms that lead to a door that opens into it. A single Dogwood survives here surrounded by hard sterile walls but thriving, growing and blooming through the seasons under harsh conditions.
As I looked up I realized that many people surely have looked down on this isolated Dogwood as they dealt with their own health issues or of loved ones. I thought, this tiny niche is a HEALING garden. This drove my vision as I sketched the design ideas on paper. Bold curving lines, reflective water, interesting textures and lush foliage will hopefully bring peace to those looking down on it, if only for a brief moment.
As my pencil moved across my drawing board , I thought of a mother giving birth to her youngest son in the old portion of the complex in the 1950’s. YES, this is the place of my birth.
This design experience has given me a deeper understanding of the concept of ” Bigger is not always better.” I hope you find a space in your garden to create a place for healing, no matter how small.