Misericordia Legacy Garden Refresh and Expansion
Located at the west end of the Misericordia Community Hospital, between the chapel and the west annex, there has been a small, quiet green space for years. Almost entirely surrounded by buildings, it is a wonderfully calm area of respite.
In 2014, the Misericordia formally called the space the Legacy Garden to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Catholic health care in Alberta. With donated funds, an arbour, planters, and trellises were established in the 40’ by 80’ space.
“Patients and families, staff and volunteers use the garden on a daily basis—weather permitting—to enjoy a quiet lunch. At times, meetings are held in the garden,” says Christine Lauerman, Clinical Liaison, Infrastructure Projects, Corporate at Misericordia Community Hospital. “It’s also used by our occupational therapy and recreational therapy programs to provide patients with opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and receive therapy.”
This year, impressed by the reaction to these initial changes, the Misericordia applied to the Associates of Caritas for more funding. The $12,000 grant, made through Covenant Foundation, has transformed the space.
Four benches that convert to tables have been added, enabling picnic lunches and efficient meetings. An in-kind design plan was developed by Gloria Lind, a retired Covenant employee, and a gazebo was added for shade. Concrete paths have been updated so the garden is accessible by wheelchair and safe for walkers.
The Legacy Garden has several mature Nanking cherry and High Bush cranberry bushes, which keeps the area buzzing with bees, birds, and butterflies. A lilac tree was planted to complement their offerings, as well as 110 perennial flowers and shrubs.
The Legacy Garden has been designed with horticultural therapy in mind. Studies have shown that reflective time in nature is helpful for patients. Having a calm, green space available to staff and volunteers allows them to take a quick restorative break so they are better able to serve with care and compassion. There are often other visitors who reap the rewards: children from a daycare on site often walk through the space, allowing for spontaneous interactions between generations.
There is hope the garden will evolve in time.
“We would like to see it develop to become more than a celebration of Catholic health care in Alberta, though of course that’s how it began,” says Lauerman. “We’re planning to move an existing memorial bench into the garden, and I can see this space turning into a memorial garden for patients, staff, and volunteers.”