Environmental healing garden planned for St. Michael’s
St. Michael’s Health Centre in Lethbridge is planning a garden outside its palliative care unit that is green in more ways than one. The facility is working with the Oldman Watershed Council on a xeriscape (zir-ə-skāp) design.
“The word ‘xeriscape’ is derived from the Greek ‘xeros’, meaning dry, and ‘scape’ is just landscape,” said Shannon Frank, Executive Director of the Oldman Watershed Council.
“It’s about using drought-tolerant plants so it can still be lush and green with beautiful flowers, which are naturally adapted to the ecosystem. They don’t need a lot because we are basically mimicking nature.”
The plan is to turn an existing piece of lawn that requires a lot of water and maintenance and is rarely used into an eco-friendly garden that is inviting to residents, staff and patients.
“There will be permeable paving stone, which is a fairly new product; it collects rainwater and lets it soak through. It will also be wheelchair friendly and there will be benches and a gazebo,” said Janelle Marietta, Community Engagement Coordinator, St. Michael’s Health Centre, who is also a member of the St. Michael’s Green Team who came up with the idea.
The project will cost about $100,000, with a lot of the labour coming from volunteers, including any interested staff or residents. The facility and the Oldman Watershed Council are hoping to win the necessary funds through Shell Fuelling Change—an online contest where people can vote for the projects they feel are most deserving of Shell Canada’s financial support.
“We have a great shot at winning if everyone at Covenant Health votes for us,” said Janelle. “The public has until April 30, 2012, to sign-up on Shell Fuelling Change. Each person is given 10 free votes they can assign to whichever project they like.”
“ A lot of the palliative care beds at the facility look out towards where the garden will be. For those who won’t be able to venture out, it is hoped the view will enhance their care.
Covenant Health’s mission of caring for the whole person—body, mind and soul— resonated with Shannon and the philosophy of the Oldman Watershed Council.
“We are focused on the environmental benefit, but it is closely tied to health and wellness. Even the cancer society promotes not using pesticides, so there are definitely links there,” said Frank. “I am looking forward to meeting the patients who enjoy the garden.”
If St. Michaels wins the Shell contest, construction on the garden will begin this spring; otherwise the group will be starting small with the $10,000 they won securing a spot in the contest and will try pursuing other grant opportunities.
To vote, visit St. Michael’s page on the Shell Fuelling Change website.