The unique gardens of VA Puget Sound Fisher House provide privacy, delight, occupation, and play for guests and their patients. Whether seeking quiet and solace in the spaces of the Healing Garden or tending and harvesting the garden, guests can leave behind their cares in the comforting embrace of nature.
The Garden was named "Marianne's Garden" in honor of Marianne Marks, a beloved VA employee who passed away in 1999. Her daughter, Melanie, worked closely with the Fisher House staff to create a garden her mother would have loved. (Read a message from Marianne's family).
Marianne's Garden brings the added benefit of giving guests, especially those who love to Garden, a happy distraction. As families contend with being away from the familiarity of home and dealing with the medical needs of a loved one, it can be the everyday tasks like cooking or folding laundry that provide a feeling of normalcy, a sense of control when so much else is out of their control. In such a situation, what could be better than taking some time in nature to pull a weed or pluck a sun-ripened tomato?
The original three-bed Garden was designed by local garden designer and author Lorene Edwards Forkner. In 2010, it expanded to two more beds during the Healing Garden construction. Additional beds were added on the west end of the patio in 2012, including a 'very raised' bed that is wheelchair accessible.
The Healing Gardens
The Healing Gardens were a joint venture between the then 'Friends of VA Puget Sound Fisher House' and the University of Washington. Professor Daniel Winterbottom of the School of Landscape Architecture Design/Build program has designed healing gardens all over the world.
Phase I was completed in 2010, and Phase II was completed in 2013. In both cases, the process began with students meeting with focus groups of Fisher House and VA staff as well as Houseguests to imagine what the garden could be. Students worked in groups to translate those visions into preliminary designs. Once approved, the students (with the help of some fantastic volunteers) did all the work of regrading, construction, and planting.
The healing gardens beautifully fulfill their intended purpose: to soothe the souls and refresh the spirits of the military and Veteran families staying at the VA Puget Sound Fisher House. The House is already a haven for the families who stay there, and the Healing Garden extends that haven to the surrounding garden area, providing families with a place to rest, restore and heal.
In the fall of 2010, the Friends of Fisher House Puget Sound purchased a charming little playhouse tucked into a corner of the back garden, within sight of a parent or guardian relaxing on the patio.
But the bit of land on which the house stood was less than inviting. Thankfully our friends Melissa and Mike from the Seattle-Kirkland Google VetNet group, along with six other employees, volunteered during "Google Serve" to create a child-friendly landscape that would invite play, encourage imagination and bring children closer to nature.
Donating time, plants, soil amendments, and garden ornaments, this energetic and creative team of individuals took one afternoon to bring our vision to life. The reality was even better than the vision, particularly the special touches by the Googlites.
Phase II of the Healing Garden also brought enhancements to the Children's Garden. Now there are benches where weary parents can rest while keeping an eye on busy children, a swinging bench, and a "hobbit house" where summer vines grow up over a structure and provide an excellent hideout.
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