Boston Children’s Hospital’s Prouty Garden under threat of demolition. Guest post by Clare Cooper Marcus

Boston Children's Hospital Prouty Garden

The Prouty Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital has served as a tranquil green urban oasis since 1956

The Prouty Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital has, for generations of patients, family members, and staff, served as a much-loved retreat from the clinical atmosphere inside. The garden was created in 1956, sponsored by Mrs. Olive Prouty whose two children had died in the hospital. Now it is under threat of demolition as the hospital looks for space to expand on its very urban site.

A petition to save the garden has already garnered over 6,500 signatures, but they need more! Please sign and help spread the word. Newspaper articles and radio reports (see, for example, WBUR and The Boston Globe) have taken up the story to plead for the retention of this irreplaceable green oasis.

A Scientific American article last year called the Prouty Garden “one of the most successful hospital gardens in the country.” Though though constructed long before our research-based knowledge of the critical issues in hospital garden design – it is almost perfect as a restorative space in healthcare. It is predominantly green with wide expanses of lawn, mature trees, shrubs, and perennials – all with identifying tags; longer and shorter looped walking paths; a small water feature; a variety of semi-private and more public seating – some moveable, some fixed, offering locations in the sun or the shade; and a dozen simple animal sculptures half-hidden in the planting which children take delight in discovering. Along with the many who use the garden for taking a walk, exploring with their children, or eating a brown-bag lunch, it can be viewed from a cafeteria terrace and the hospital library. Although the hospital administration promises to replace the garden with the equivalent square-footage of green spaces, it is highly unlikely that anything will make up for the loss of this half-acre, mature, much-loved oasis, so desperately needed in a setting where so many are suffering from stress and anxiety.

Prouty Garden at Boston Children's Hospital

Children take delight in discovering the animal sculptures half-hidden in the plantings at the Prouty Garden


Please sign the petition, and help spread the word! Note that the comments on the petition are particularly moving in describing what, and how much, this space means to people. Here are just a couple examples:

As the social worker with the PACT team, the Prouty Garden is “sacred ground” where many patients have spent their last time with their families. It is a place of healing for our patients and healing for our families regardless of their medical outcomes.

Not only does the garden serve as a haven for patients and families, but it is the home to so many memories of loved ones who have spent time or lost battles at Children’s Hospital. The proposal to destroy this garden, along with those memories, is unimaginable.

My daughter has spent countless days in the hospital. She is totally blind, and the only relief she gets is to go outside and feel the wind, hear the birds and feel the grass. Her siblings have spent many hours there with here, and alone, trying to ease the pain and heartache. To destroy beauty in the name of “progress” gives me pause to consider whether or not this is the best hospital for my child and family. How can the #1 rated hospital even consider such a thing??

Thanks to my co-author Clare Cooper Marcus, for this guest post! Our book, Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces will be out in October.