Cancer Center Garden
Our Cancer Center Garden, the fourth of The Healing Gardens at St. Mary, is John Muir’s “place to pray in…” provided to cancer patients of St. Mary by the Community League.
Sheltered in a “canyon” formed by the walls of two buildings, this is a place grounded in spiritual symbolism aimed at healing the mind and the spirit of cancer patients, as well as the body.
In this garden, rainwater symbolizes God’s will beyond our control, so, fittingly, a rainwater garden is at its core. The soil in this spot is more porous, allowing the deep penetration of rainwater. Multiple species of hardy plants here have deep roots that seek out all available water and nutrients in periods of drought much like the way the human soul helps the body find inner strength and vitality in times of illness.
The three white, canvas shade sails above also have practical, as well as symbolic purposes. They shield the sun and the surrounding walls to create shade and a friendly, human scale in the garden. They also aid the runoff of available rainwater, which symbolizes the cancer patient’s support system. The sails are in the horizontal position, a symbol of the forces beyond our control that can take the wind out of our sails. Positioned horizontally and taut, they now perform a different function – instead of propelling, they collect the critical supply of rainwater to nourish the rainwater garden, a symbol of vitality.
Aluminum mesh screens that support vines separate people in the garden from pedestrians in a busy hallway that looks out on this scene.
The white, marble fountain with two bronze doves was positioned at the “opening” between two screens nearest the hallway for a reason: it draws the attention of passersby in the hallway to itself instead of to the people inside the garden space.
Explore Our Gardens: