Children’s National to Construct Healing Garden

WASHINGTON – Children’s National Medical Center will build its first-ever healing garden on a 7,200-square-foot rooftop space, allowing patients to enjoy the outdoors during their hospital stay.

The healing garden will feature a design that accommodates the medical needs of the hospital patients. All pathways will be on one level and made of Flexi-Pave, a solid material designed to look like pebbles, so that children using equipment such as wheelchairs, crutches, and IV poles can easily explore the area. Two river birch trees will provide shade, while specific foliage, grasses, and bamboo were selected for the soothing noises they make when they move. There is a talk about adding outdoor furniture similar to those seen on sites like so that the children could play their own little games while spending time in the garden. Xiaoyan Song, PhD, MSc, director of Infection Control and Epidemiology at Children’s National Health System has approved all materials. Gardens like this will need to be kept up to its highest standards to make sure that it is well looked after for all to enjoy. Bringing in specialists such as new jersey bamboo landscapers and other professionals, will make sure everything is contained and not growing all over the place.

A young patient who’s last wish was to go outside inspired the idea to create the healing garden, and the Children’s National care team made her wish come true. The average stay for a child hospitalized at Children’s National is six days, but many children with serious illnesses need to stay several weeks or months. The garden will make it easier for sick children to go outdoors safely.

Funding for the healing garden will come from a multimillion-dollar gift from the estate of the late D.C. philanthropist and horticulturalist Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon. Mellon passed away in March 2014 at the age of 103. The gift to the Healing Garden came from The Gerard B. Lambert Foundation, named for Mellon’s late father, using proceeds from Mrs. Mellon’s estate. Her love of gardening eventually brought her the opportunity to redesign the White House Rose Garden and Jacqueline Kennedy Garden on the White House grounds. Mellon also designed the flower arrangements for President John F. Kennedy’s funeral and for Ambassador Caroline Kennedy’s wedding.

The garden will be dedicated to the First Ladies of the United States, who have a long tradition of supporting Children’s National and the children of the Washington community. Initial funding for the garden was raised with the leadership of Heather and Andy Florance and the employees of CoStar Group. The additional funding from the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation allows for design and construction to now begin. It will be led by the local office of architecture firm Perkins+Will, and Rockville, Md.-based James G. Davis Construction.