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CHEO’s Healing Garden

Fresh from the garden… the latest updates on the Healing Garden:Photo of members of CHEO's Healing Garden Committee

On April 22, 2014 CHEOs’ Green Committee held an event for patients, staff and donors to celebrate Earth Day at CHEO.

Dr. Matthew Bromwich, a CHEO surgeon and head of the Green Committee at the hospital, took the opportunity to thank people and organizations who have given in support of CHEO’s Healing Garden which was inaugurated last year, thanks to a gift from the Hike for CHEO Committee of the Hellenic Community of Ottawa

  • Looking out for the planet is an everyday activity. This year, CHEO is grateful to have other people who look out for our planet and donated in support of the Healing Garden, namely Nordion who recently made a commitment of $15,000 over 3 years. We estimate that our annual operating costs will be about $5,000/year so multi-year pledges like Nordion’s really help ensure that the Healing Garden program will be sustainable and will continue to grow. 

Other generous supporters of the Healing Garden include:

  • Chris Papoutsis, Director of Sales at EnviroCurb who has generously donated benches and a waste receptacle. They are currently situated at the Main Entrance but will be moved into the garden when appropriate. 
  • Russ Keenan Enterprises who is donating their services to provide water for the garden. 
  • HoneyWell Building Solutions who donated spruce saplings both this year and last year – a wonderful and green way to celebrate Earth Day. 
  • Canadian Museum of Nature who has provided admission coupons and a great gift basket. 

Many others have been vital to the design of the project; they include: Annette Hegel, Jason Smalley; Janice Ife and the students of Algonquin College, as well as Tom Manion, of Ottawa Brick and Stone.

About CHEO’s Healing Garden

A garden can be one of the most magical places in a child’s life. To plant and care for something, see it sprout and then bloom is indeed special. Gardens also have a soothing affect in relieving stress so that children and youth can be taught to better channel their energy and learn to alleviate various forms of stress through healthy methods.

Many of our long-term patients and children with chronic disorders feel that CHEO is like a second home. This is why the Healing Earth Garden will have such an important and special role at CHEO for our inpatients. Like our playrooms and our libraries, it will be another program that will let kids be kids.

CHEO staff members are always looking for creative ways to help patients in their recovery and rehabilitation. The Healing Earth Garden will be another outlet for rehabilitation that is both fun and creative.

We will need the generosity and support of our community to initiate and maintain this effort.

Start-up Costs:


Annual Operating Costs:


For the Health of Our Children: Patient Care Impact

The Garden will be used to promote health and wellness, develop new skills, restore self-esteem and provide a sense of community. 

  • Nutrition: Encourage a healthy lifestyle by decreasing stigma surrounding eating disorders and obesity. Patients can be taught the importance of incorporating fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs into their diet, right here at CHEO!
  • Education: Kids can learn to understand basic food sustainability and food safety.
  • Rehabilitation: Gardening is a form of exercise which can improve endurance, flexibility and strength. Horticulture therapy will be used to achieve specific treatment goals for: Autism Spectrum Disorder; anxiety; anger and depression; Attention Hyperactivity Disorder; developmental and physical disabilities.
  • Accessibility: When designed with accessibility in mind, a garden can create an area where people of all ages, abilities and special needs can participate in the programs and activities. This could include features like raised planting beds and tables to ensure wheelchair accessibility. 
  • Programs and services: The garden will be a collaborative effort involving several departments, programs and services such as Child Life, Youth Net, Physiotherapy, Psychiatry, Eating disorders, and Healthy Active Living and Obesity (HALO). The garden program will be designed to include both inpatients and outpatients at CHEO. 
  • Other benefits of the Healing Garden: Beautification of the grounds; collaboration between the hospital, patients, families and the community; creation of friendships and a positive environmental impact.

A place for wellness

CHEO’s Healing Earth Garden has been designed to meet physical, psychological and social needs of patients, their families and the staff who care for them. The Garden will include an activity area, a sensory and exploration area and a common area to retreat to and renew energy. It will be designed to stimulate all the senses.

Sight: Bright colors make great subjects for drawings and paintings during play e.g. sunflowers, marigold and chocolate ruffles’ plant.

Smell: Smells for children can often trigger associations. In a garden they serve additional purposes such as attracting insects to the flowers or deterring pests from eating the leaves e.g. curry plant, lavender, chocolate cosmos, and sweet pea.

Taste: Fortunately many herbs can grow in our climate and these can be incorporated into our nutritional programs e.g. spearmint, rosemary, chives, and wild strawberries.

Touch: Leaves vary between plants; from rough to smooth, furry to spiky. Every texture has a purpose.

  • Lamb’s ears: its furry leaves protect the plant from hot and cold weather.
  • Houseleek: it has rigid leaves and its rosette forms a succulent to help store water.
  • African sundew: a meat-eating plant that catches its prey using a glue-like substance on its leaves.

Sound: Birds singing, bees buzzing and wind rustling in the plants encourages children to listen to all the sounds of nature.  Greater quaking grass: its flowers rustle in the wind.

  • Love-in-a-mist: bright blue flowers with puffy seed-heads that rattle when shaken.
  • Bamboo: bamboo canes are great for making wind-chimes (a great craft for kids!).

Design and construction:

The Healing Garden is just ‘sprouting’ and we thank you for your patience as we develop a collaborative design that will implement CHEO’s vision to help kids be their healthiest. We want children and youth to feel comfortable in this space to play, grow and get healthy. CHEO patients, staff and community volunteers have participated in the Healing Garden’s proposed design.

Construction of phase one is scheduled to begin Spring 2014 providing funding and ability to abide by hospital grounds’ policies to ensure patient and family safety.

For more information or to make a donation in support of the Healing Garden, please contact the Healing Garden Committee at or Sophie Laflèche at 613-737-2420. You can make a one-time gift online by clicking ‘DONATE NOW’ on the Foundation website. Please make your gift in response to the CHEO Healing Garden.

Learn more about our Healing Garden 

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