Hospital Gardens

If you are at the hospital there is probably a crisis going on in your life and your mind is in a whirl (arriving babies quite the exception.)   Once there as you navigate the many halls and pods of rooms you may rush by a garden.  Healing gardens and meditation gardens are part of many hospitals.  Banner Desert Hospital in Mesa, AZ has gardens.  I recently spent three days rushing through the halls here and found the Harmony Garden, Bistro Garden, Children’s and Train garden.

It is hard to stop and wander into a garden when your mind is on your family member in a room upstairs. Yet I slipped into the Harmony garden  and I was immediately calmed.  There was a piece of blue sky framed by the high hospital walls.  There was the sound of water splashing.  There was bamboo, liriope (lily turf) blooming in purple and umbrella plant. A silver and copper sculpture anchored one end of the approximately 120’ by 30 ‘ space.  A labyrinth provided a path for walking off some of my anxiety.  There was quiet here. The green of plant life is a distraction from computer input, IV machines and Doctors.  I was grateful for this garden space.


There is a large Children’s hospital here as well, so interconnected with the main hospital a walk to the cafeteria takes you past the Train Garden.  Here you see an amazing set of model trains circle through full village scenes complete with living boxwood trees, alyssum and sunflowers.  Adults and children alike stand wide eyed as they scan the detailed display of a miniature world.  While I was there a tiny little boy, maybe two years old, watched the moving trains.  His father, navigating the IV machine attached to his son, knelt down beside him and for a few minutes they were distracted from the health struggles engulfing their lives.


Hospitals and hectic seem to go together, the garden and trains are frequently without visitors yet just a glance at these spaces may be healing and helpful.  Later the trains maybe the stuff of conversation as they are described to the patient unable to walk down to see them.  Perhaps the Harmony garden scene with plants and flowers will come into view as a tired family member closes their eyes as they sit along side their loved one.

Health care costs are the topic of many heated conversations, garden space may seem difficult to quantify in the bottom line debate.  “Yet not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” (Einstein)  If you find yourself at the hospital wander into the garden.

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