Healing gardens provide a medically recognized therapeutic space for cancer patients, survivors and family members, as well as the medical professionals who care for them. The Healing Garden at the Cone Health Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina is a beautiful example.
A gathering spot within the garden features an impressive circular patio using Pathway Full Range pavers, with a stamped concrete emblem in the center. The pavers are also used for pathways and garden accents.
Open since 2015, the Healing Garden was originally organized (and pushed, prodded, designed, planted, weeded, and most of all fundraised) by Mary Magrinat, a breast cancer survivor whose husband is a Cone Health Cancer Center oncologist, and her friend Sally Pagliai, an internationally known landscape designer, whose husband died of cancer several years beforehand.
The space invites cancer patients, family members and hospital staff to stop in and to listen to the gentle sounds of breezes through the trees, the songs from birds and tree frogs, the gently flowing waters of Buffalo Creek nearby.
Originally envisioned as a respite for patients, families and support staff, the Healing Garden and the adjacent hospital are taking on a new role today. It’s a place to bring healing and a sense of solace to those dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic.
It’s a place for contemplation, a place for cleansing and it has that value for patients and staff both. It enables people to be in a place that is set apart, in a place where there is a nurturing and a healing sort of treatment for the soul. It helps people to slow down. It invites people to sit and reflect.– Lisa Lundeen, the lead chaplain for the Moses Cone Cancer Center
Healing gardens as an opportunity for community involvement
Pagliai donated an initial design that called for hardscapes, for benches and wheelchair-accessible pathways; and gradually, swamp oaks, weeping willows, sweet bay magnolias and grasses, all of which work well in a wetland environment, filled out the space.
As the garden grew, volunteers put in a gardening shed and donated tools, along with plants from their own gardens. Eventually, trees would be planted to screen out traffic noise from Wendover Avenue, a nearby four-lane limited access traffic artery. The different areas – the Wetland Garden, the Children’s Garden, Boulder Point and the Healing Gardener Shed – would be defined and created.
Lundeen says that she is fortunate that when it gets overwhelming, she can go to her office and close the door. For those in direct patient care, there is no office. But there is the Healing Garden where they can go, step out of the caregiver mode and just be for a little while, or find the therapeutic value of a soft breeze on the face, a bubbling brook, the sight of a rabbit, a blue herons, a muskrat or a mallard.
The Healing Garden demonstrates the importance and value of professional landscaping in the way people engage with any campus–clinical, corporate or academic. Clay paver hardscapes are ideal to merge the walking and sitting experience with nature. After all, they’re a product of the Earth.