Smiles bloom frequently and for a cornucopia of reasons in the Sea Garden at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Opened in April 2012 on a rooftop deck in the rehabilitation wing, it is a place of both calm and activity. Grasses and shrubs in border-planters evoke the peace of the sea, offering families a restful retreat. Patients of all ages buzz by, planting, watering, enjoying being outside, with therapists, nurses and other staff always by their sides.
The garden offers a whole new set of tools to promote progress and goals — for example, watering high or low to work on strength and balance, harvesting by hand to work on fine motor skills. Brightly colored planters just the right height for patients to access while they may be in a wheelchair yielded tomatoes, lettuce, oregano, eggplants, peppers, kohlrabi, basil and more in the garden’s first crop. In the rehabilitation kitchen one floor down, occupational therapists, who help patients learn or re-learn skills for school, life and work, guided the washing of lettuce and chopping of tomatoes as salads and salsa abounded.
The garden is open to all: Any family or patient is welcome to visit the space, as long as the medical team approves. Special craft and planting events draw children from throughout the Hospital.
Alison Marx, operating officer for the Department of Pediatrics at CHOP, led the transformation of the formerly lackluster deck. She collaborated with Groundswell Design Group LLC, a landscape architecture firm, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and employees from around the Hospital (including Child Life, Nursing, Occupational and Physical Therapy, among others) in a volunteer effort that included a winter planting. “Watching the garden bloom this spring and summer was exhilarating,” she says, “and seeing patients and families enjoy the space was even better.”
Learn more about the Sea Garden.
“Watching the garden bloom this spring and summer was exhilarating and seeing patients and families enjoy the space was even better.”
Alison Marx, operating officer, Department of Pediatrics
Occupational therapists often took Sharee, 14, to the Sea Garden during her recovery from an accident.