Throughout antiquity, societies cultivated gardens in part to stimulate and maintain good health, as well as for treatment for a diverse number of illnesses and ailments. The benefits of fresh air, aromatic flowers, and scenes of nature are numerous. But as modern medicine and technology took the forefront in patient treatment, the importance of gardens and outdoor space as part of the medical healing process began to be ignored
By the end of the twentieth century, the healing benefits of gardens and landscapes were once again being recognized with scientific studies supporting the increased speed and ease with which a patient recovered when having access to a garden or other natural environment. Since that time, hospitals around the United States have focused design and renovation plans on the development of landscaping that promotes healing and patient well-being. From California to Virginia, these 10 hospital gardens serve as spectacular examples of the beauty and healing abilities of gardens.
10. Memorial Regional Medical Center in Mechanicsville, Virginia
The Healing Garden at the Memorial Regional Medical Center in Mechanicsville, Virginia, is representative of the idea of using this amazing resource to treat patients physically, mentally, and emotionally. Located in the center courtyard, visitors, patients, and employees have an invitation to relax on the stone benches and enjoy the various flowering plants from roses to lilies in an array of colors surrounding the soothing fountain at the center of the garden. In addition to the flowers, this hospital garden also functions as a source of healthy, organic foods for the hospital cafeteria. Everything from herbs that include dill and thyme to seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes and pumpkins are harvested here and used to create delicious meals. The brick pathways weave through the flowers and harvestable plants for patients to enjoy the scenery, garden statues, and arbors throughout the courtyard garden.
9. Mount Zion Cancer Center in San Francisco, California
The courtyard garden at the Mount Zion Cancer Center in San Francisco, California was designed to lift the spirits of cancer patients and build a sense of community in the healing process. The garden includes an indoor corridor, which is made up of tiles that include imprints of Asian plants with patient survivor stories. Surrounded by hospital walls and located in the center of activity of a large city, the garden includes a fountain in the center to help drown out the sounds of outside activity and provide the serenity patients are looking for. Flowers and plants that thrive throughout the year create an extraordinary greenness to brighten up the entire campus and help patients through their treatments.
8. St. Rose Dominican Hospital at the Siena Campus in Henderson, Nevada
The St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena Campus in Henderson Nevada is well-placed for the site of a healing garden. The structures of the hospital are reminiscent of Spanish style Catholic missions, and the hospital campus overlooks scenic views of distant, majestic mountains. The 3,000 square foot healing garden was designed to complement the architecture of the campus and to highlight the natural beauty of the Nevada desert. Native plant life and trees are strategically placed throughout the desert setting of the garden, accented by inviting gazebos and water fountains and pools. The atmosphere is one of serenity, and each element is designed to create a sense of calmness and relaxation. The center of the hospital complex, this healing garden is open to all patients and visitors, and the local Rose Society also offers gardening classes for the hospital and community within the garden.
7. Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois
Known for the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois is also a place of history and culture. All of these qualities of one of the most famous and often visited cities in the United States are reflected in the indoor garden at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. The hospital is located on the campus of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and the 23-story design was a necessity because of the urban setting. With limited space just north of the busy city of Chicago, the healing garden at this hospital was designed for the inside of the eleventh floor. The Crown Sky Garden includes a grove of bamboo trees and beautiful lights to highlight the natural elements of the garden. Patients and visitors can visit the Tree House on the twelfth floor and view the gardens from above, enjoying the piece of nature in the center of Chicago.
6. Legacy Health Gardens at Emanuel Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon
The Legacy Emanuel Children’s Hospital Garden design was started in 1996, and in 2000 the site won an American Horticultural Therapy Association Therapeutic Garden Award. The garden’s designers wanted to create a space for everyone associated with the hospital, from patients to employees to visitors. The garden is both functional and spiritual, offering gathering areas with benches surrounded by bright, green trees and plant foliage for emotional support, sculptures representing nature scattered along curvy paths, and walking rails for therapists to work with patients in rehabilitation. Flowers and curved arches are dotted around the paths, and bushes are shaped into playful animals. For the children recovering at the Emanuel Children’s Hospital, the scene provides the serenity and comfort they need to feel at home and prepared for everything they will face.
5. Hope in Bloom Gardens in Massachusetts
The Hope in Bloom organization is a unique program that offers breast cancer patients the opportunity to benefit from flower or vegetable gardens at their own homes for no cost. Because the use of natural sanctuaries has been proven to relieve stress, increase relaxation, and improve patient recovery, this non-profit organization strives to provide private gardens to help patients and their families deal with the psychological, emotional, and physical effects of cancer treatment. Every garden is different, designed with each individual person in mind, making for a sea of beautiful Hope in Bloom gardens throughout the state of Massachusetts. From flowers to plants to garden accents, every garden provides a peaceful, beautiful sanctuary.
4. Olson Family Garden at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri
One of the most unique healing gardens is located on the eight floor of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Over 7,000 flowers and plants fill the 8,000 square foot garden, located on the rooftop of the hospital and providing a natural sanctuary for patients and visitors. Winding paths take garden visitors on a tour that includes waterfalls, garden beds, goldfish-filled ponds, small coves, benches, and swings. The hospital uses the garden as a setting for therapeutic activities to help children, including performances and crafting sessions. For those patients who are not able to enjoy the garden from the outside, a special playroom from by the garden offers views of the beautiful scenery through wide open windows.
3. Johns Hopkins Healing Gardens in Baltimore, Maryland
The Johns Hopkins medical complex in Baltimore, Maryland, recently opened a new children’s center on its campus in 2012. The design of the addition included many changes, and the addition of garden areas was an essential part of the design. Included in that design is the new Healing Garden, which is divided into two areas on the campus. The first area is an open and airy space to welcome visitors and patients who want to enjoy the Lambs’ ears, plants, and roses. The other Healing Garden space is more secluded, offering a get-away from stress and supporting relaxation with rhododendrons, spicebush, hydrangeas, snakeroot, crabapples, and ferns. To add to the Healing Garden spaces, the campus also added the Meditation Garden, where patients and visitors are able to gain a sense of peace and serenity while enjoying the maple trees and calming fountain.
2. Bonner General Hospital Healing Garden in Idaho
The Bonner General Hospital Healing Garden in Idaho is a magnificent example of rustic beauty, providing patients with the opportunity to explore through quaint wooden and stone cottages, seek peace in covered shelters overlooking the river and numerous fountains, and travel along paths to take a step back into tranquility. The stone pathways are accented with beautifully arranged plants, but it is the abundance of tall trees throughout the garden area that creates the peacefulness and quiet. In warmer months, the green leaves of the trees provide more escape into self-reflection and quiet, and in the cooler months, the cascading burnt autumn colors of the leaves gives a crisp and inviting air to the grounds.
1. Rosecrance Treatment Center-Griffin Williamson Campus in Rockford, Illinois
Alcohol and substance abuse treatment centers have diverse approaches to helping recovering patients. One of the most beautiful and effective of these is the substance abuse treatment facility for Rosecrance in Rockford, Illinois, a center to help recovering adolescent substance abusers. The facility itself is designed to model a peaceful lodge nestled in the mountains, surrounded by large ponds, stone waterfalls, and scenic boulders. Every patient can see the amazing scenery from their assigned wing in the center, and the conservatory located on the second floor of the building overlooks the spectacular panorama of the Healing Gardens. The opportunity to enjoy the natural setting adds to the use of the gardens in horticultural therapy for the center’s patients.