Creating beautiful outdoor retreats for those in need of
hope and comfort is down-to-earth philanthropy
Written by ELLEN C. WELLS
Photography by DAVE HENDERSON
Where flowers bloom so does hope.
Lady Bird Johnson
The fruits of the garden can
fill our plates and vases, but for
those in need of healing, comfort, and hope, a garden can
fill the soul and lift the spirits.
“Everybody feels better in a garden,” say Roberta Hershon, founder of Hope in
Bloom, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization
that installs gardens for patients undergoing
breast cancer treatment. “Whoever encouraged
us to stop and smell the roses knew what they
were talking about.”
Hershon is just one of many whose philanthropy has been funneled through horticulture
as a way of giving to those facing stressful times.
“This has been a way for my wife and I to
heal,” says Tim Dolan, who helped create gardens
on a terrace outside the Neonatal Intensive Care
Unit (NICU) at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s
Hospital in 2005. That year, in the 26th week of
Amy Dolan’s pregnancy, the Dolans learned that
one of the triplets she was carrying would be stillborn. Two weeks later, Amy gave birth to Charlie
and Johannah at the Brigham, where the infants
were in the NICU for two months.
“It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride,” Tim
Dolan recalls. “You don’t know if your children
will survive, and you don’t know what their futures will be.” He and Amy spent every possible
moment at the hospital. For a reprieve, they
would escape to the NICU’s sixth-floor solarium
and patio — a covered terrace where some arborvitae and ground cover had been planted.
When the children, today both healthy and
active, were ready to go home Amy suggested
creating a garden as a way to give back to the hos-
a lush garden path links the two roof gardens
created by Tim Dolan and his wife, Amy, at the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Brigham &
Women’s Hospital in Boston. Their goal was to
give back to the hospital by providing a place of
respite for other families with infants in the NICU.