By Susy Santos
The Victoria General Hospital is about to create a Miracle Garden that will provide a healing space for its patients, their loved ones and the community at large.
The Vic’s 13,000 square foot Miracle Garden will wrap around the Buhler Cancer Centre and include a large water feature and pond, benches beneath shady trellises, gardens of fresh herbs and brightly coloured flowers and a unique children’s play area. It will be a place of comfort, inspiration and renewal.
Studies have shown these types of gardens have many health benefits. Gardening in itself is a highly integrated endeavour which includes movement, attention, planning, control and optimism; it stimulates the brain, protects its cognitive capacities, provides hope and promotes physical activity. People admire, communicate and socialize around community garden spaces, which offer a peaceful environment for rest and relaxation while promoting a sense of community
A growing body of research confirms the inter-connectedness of body-mind-spirit in the healing process and demonstrates the healing effects of direct contact with natural landscapes. Therapeutic benefits of gardens include relief from the stress that most often accompanies illness and treatment, alleviation of actual physical symptoms, less need for medication and overall faster recovery.
Eva Shaw, author of Shovel it: Nature’s Health Plan, lists lowering of blood pressure and help in fighting depression among the benefits of gardening. Studies have also shown that gardening is a preferred activity for losing weight for persons over 55, as the activity includes energy expenditure and calorie burning, both of which are important in maintaining healthy levels of blood cholesterol.
Simply being in touch with nature has health benefits. Mother Earth is known to give life and security. People have reported that gardening or being in a garden-type setting is sometimes used as a way of relating to God or the universe. Nature environments are wonderful spaces for times of peace and great meaning.
The Vic plans to break ground for the new Miracle Garden by late fall. The project will be complete in 2013.
Susy Santos is the director of the Victoria Institute of Clinical Research & Evaluation (Vic R&E) at Victoria General Hospital. To support Vic R&E and patient care at the Vic,
Please contact Victoria General Hospital Foundation in Winnipeg at 477-3513 or online at www.thevicfoundation.ca.