New health centre gardens to offer ‘solace and support'

Staff ~ The Truro Daily News
Published on November 12, 2012
Carol Goodwin, who teaches environmental horticulture at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus, was instrumental in getting work done on four gardens in time for the Colchester East Hants Health Centre's opening later this month. Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News

TRURO - Four scenic gardens at the new Colchester East Hants Health Centre will offer relaxation and therapeutic benefits for patients and visitors.

Carol Goodwin, who teaches environmental horticulture at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill, has ben instrumental in turning the gardens into reality.

"These gardens will mean a great deal to people in this environment," said Goodwin. "It's a nice way to offer solace and support."

Two of the four gardens, located within the new $184.5-million health centre, will for patient use only.

"The rehabilitation garden will be used for physical therapy clients," said Goodwin. "We have strawberries, blueberries, pears, peaches and apples and they will all require regular maintenance and pruning.

"A lot of times, if someone has something wrong with their hand, they'll be given a ball to squeeze to strengthen their muscles. If they're pruning, they can easily do those 300 squeezes without knowing."

Goodwin said gardening also requires a lot of bending, stooping, crouching and stretching.

The other garden not accessible to the public is in the mental health unit.

All the windows from patients' rooms are privacy windows, so the garden is a way for patients to relax outside.

"There is a range of flowered and wooded plants in the garden, giving the patients a relaxing and calming space," said Goodwin. "It's about getting them out of the institutional space and to give them a break."

The two gardens with public access are the healing garden off the main entrance and the atrium on the second floor.

"The healing garden will be for families while they are waiting or even visiting. It's a way for them to get into a nice environment and outside of the hospital walls. It's a de-stressing space."

On the second floor, visitors can spend time in the atrium garden, which is dedicated in memory of Daina Sidler. The rehabilitation courtyard is dedicated in memory of Jenna Delaney.

"The nice thing about the atrium is that deer can't get to the plants," said Goodwin. "The things we love and that are hard to grow - the hostas and rhododendrons - this garden is a good opportunity to have those."

The atrium will also see more blooming plants, as it's the only garden that saw spring flowering bulbs planted.

"We also have summer shrubs and perennials in the atrium, as well as deciduous and coniferous trees, which will allow winter lights on them," she said.

In order to maintain the gardens, Goodwin is hoping a ‘Friends of the Gardens' group will be formed, especially with those in the community that would have liked to help out but didn't know they could. Students from the agricultural campus and citizens volunteered their time for the garden project.

"I'm one of the lucky ones to have been involved," Goodwin said. "I find gardening to be relaxing and I love the physical exertion. I like the satisfaction of seeing what can be accomplished."

Anyone wishing to help maintain the gardens can contact the Colchester East Hants Health Centre Foundation at 893-5541.