Trends Summer 2013 | Page 6

“ We started conversations with Phil , and we soon realized that there ’ s a lot more to a healing garden than just some trees and plants and flowers – and he was just exceptional ,” Giles said .
“ He was truly looking at this as a healing garden , something that was going to have elements of solitude and a place of spirituality ,” Elliott added . “ We were very impressed with his approach and , once we got the chance to look at his designs , it was obviously so much more striking than what any member of the committee imagined . This was an eye-popper .”

Goals of the garden

Johnson , a registered landscape architect who served as Ayres Associates ’ project manager and designer , said the garden had three primary objectives : to provide a calming , reflective environment for patients and visitors ; to make the hospital entrance more welcoming ; and to offer an outdoor option for performing physical therapy .
The garden , approximately 136 feet wide by 108 feet long , features two walks , one made out of colored concrete and one out of brick pavers . The space also offers retaining walls accented by native grasses , wooden tables , chairs and benches , a small shelter with rocking chairs , a water feature , memorial bricks , a sculpture , and a selection of shade trees and annual flowers .
In addition to designing an aesthetically pleasing garden , Johnson put careful thought into the special populations who might be using the space .
“ If you look at it from a therapeutic benefit perspective , you have to look at the different conditions that are typically treated at this facility ,” he said . “ For example , if you have elderly people that you ’ re treating – and most facilities do – you need to be able to use darker surfaces , less reflective surfaces .” Darker walking surfaces anchor the site , he explained , and colored concrete helps reduce reflectivity on the eyes .
For Alzheimer ’ s patients , it ’ s important to have color contrasts and defined spaces . Water is important , but reflective water should be avoided because an Alzheimer ’ s patient could become confused or fearful after seeing his or her reflection .
Johnson also tried to avoid greenery that would aggravate common allergies and even considered possible medications people could have in their systems while visiting the garden . For instance , people on certain antibiotics need to avoid sunlight ,
so Johnson was sure to create spaces “ that are shaded but yet create that outdoor experience .”
“ You can make big mistakes by not understanding what the impacts of your design are ,” Johnson said .

Consulting hospital staff

Early in the process , Johnson facilitated information sessions with hospital staff , allowing them to share their personal ideas and preferences . He used the feedback to create three schematic designs , which the group viewed and provided input on at a subsequent meeting .
“ He would explain to people what the diagrams were , and rather than having to pick one , he allowed us to kind of pick the elements we liked the best ,” Giles said . “ So it wasn ’ t like either / or . It was ‘ Well , I like this about this . I love this about this .’ And then he took all of those and came up with his final plan .” Involving the employees allowed them to feel a part of the process , Giles said .
After unveiling the final plan , the hospital ’ s Development Office was ready to start fundraising . Giles and her staff launched a campaign in fall 2011 , and money was collected throughout the year via payroll deductions and one-time donations . Not everyone was initially