Fisher House Boston, located on the grounds of the West Roxbury campus of VA Boston Healthcare System, is the proud and grateful recipient of a new Healing Garden installed as a continuation to the existing Tranquility Garden. The existing Tranquility Garden includes water features, sitting areas and landscaped beds that act to enclose the grounds and give the families staying at Fisher House a quiet place to reflect and find peace. The Healing Garden, along with the Tranquility Garden, will add a feeling of comfort and normalcy for families going through a very difficult time. The intent of the garden is to assist in the healing process through the power of nature.
The design and creation of the Healing Garden is a collaboration between the Fisher House Boston Board of Directors, The Garden Continuum, a landscape design/build firm, and SSG. William Kleinedler, Artist, U.S. Army (Retired).
The elements of the new garden were carefully selected with healing in mind. Many people equate safety with being in a defined space; this garden is both well-defined and openly inviting at the same time. The earth berms, representing the loving arms of the earth, surround the garden and elevate the planted spaces, cradling the person within the open space of the patio area of the garden. The organic pea-stone patio offers a place for visitors to gather, and the benches invite people to stay and take the time they need in this place of comfort and healing.
“The Fisher House Healing Garden has been designed as an oasis of safety and hope. The design attempts to create a reflective space where people may sink into the embrace of the earth and the energies of plants to find quiet support and peaceful rest,” explains Monique Allen, designer of the garden and owner of The Garden Continuum. “The healing power of plants and gardens has been well documented, while continuing to be elusive to logical thinking. It isn’t necessary to understand why, it is only necessary that the space is made available so that the healing may be made possible. The Garden Continuum was thrilled to be honored with the request to design and build a healing garden for the Fisher House Boston.”
Additionally, a sculpture was commissioned to give a central focal element to the garden. This sculpture “Integro” is about beginning anew, starting over, replenishment and renewal of spirit. SSG. William Kleinedler (Army Retired), Veteran and artist, designed and created the piece to lift the spirits of the warriors and families undergoing hardship and to show others there is hope even in their darkest hour.
Kleinedler, an accomplished artist, but who still considers himself to be a new and upcoming artist, shares this about his work. “This piece gave me the opportunity to reach out as an artist to inspire others, to motivate and move forward as traumatic experiences have wreaked havoc in their lives. It also challenged me to better myself both in my art and in life as I progress with my own therapy. I’ve told the story before about how the butterfly starts out as a caterpillar and moves into its cocoon; later it emerges into a butterfly.
Metamorphosis represents the process of change from one thing into another and the way we must change in our lives and strive to become better. The same is true for all warriors who face the challenges of war; those who are wounded are now changed. The challenge of becoming the butterfly by learning to live with these new disabilities is also shared by the families of those who have been wounded. To accept that dad or mom no longer looks the same, that brother or sister has trouble sleeping at night, that we now have wheelchair ramps at our house instead of stairs. Change, in time, with help…in time, with patience…in time, in spirit…things can get better. Change can bring you down roads you never thought possible. Challenge can give you the confidence to look at life more respectfully. “
The garden and sculpture are located on the grounds of the Fisher House Boston. VA Boston Healthcare System is honored to be the host for this wonderful healing home, and deeply appreciates the efforts of all who contributed to this magnificent project.