Calm in the midst of storm: Gardens at MD Anderson
Garden spaces integral part of campus design
A bluejay hops through, foraging for breakfast.
A bee skips over a patch of flowering Blue Daze.
A young monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis and dries its wings in the morning sun.
All this happens in a few brief moments, steps away from the main entrance to MD Anderson.
The garden spaces are an integral part of the cancer center, not only acting as buffers and respites from the concrete, traffic and Houston heat — but playing their own surprising role in the healing process.
For Chris LaChance, being in the gardens helped give her space to center herself and step away from the stress and worry of treatment. “Wheeling my IV pole across the drive and plopping down on the grass, I immediately felt calmer, more at peace.”
LaChance, master gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and cancer survivor, was the catalyst for the development of the butterfly garden tucked into the eastern end of the Dorothy H. Hudson Memorial Garden.
Leaving treatment one day, she envisioned the butterfly garden. It became her way of thanking MD Anderson for her survival and also giving hope to other cancer patients. The transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly helped her find a fitting metaphor for her cancer journey.
Room for privacy and solace
The first patient garden spaces were planted in the late 1970s. They consisted of roses planted by Tom Jean Moore, volunteer, to whom today’s rose garden is dedicated.
The patient experience extends from inside the hospital to the garden spaces.
“Many of MD Anderson’s gardens are divided by foliage into smaller ‘rooms’ where people can find privacy and solace,” says David Renninger, facilities project manager in the Division of Operations and Facilities Management and steward of the MD Anderson gardens.
At the Lowry and Peggy Mays Clinic, patients and visitors can visit the different Texas regions on the Floor 8 terrace gardens. And on the land formerly occupied by the Houston Main Building at the southeast corner of Fannin and Holcombe, The Prairie is taking shape. Walking paths winding through these spaces are filled with wildflowers and native grasses and offer a welcome distraction. If you’re very, very quiet, you might even sight the resident rabbit.
MD Anderson parks and gardens
Houston Endowment Inc. Park
Patients and visitors can relax in The Park, a comfortable indoor setting.
Dorothy H. Hudson Garden and LeRoy Melcher Jr. Memorial Fountain
Park benches are located in a pleasant outdoor area featuring the “Flame” sculpture.
Tom Jean Moore Rose Garden
Volunteers cut, arrange and deliver roses to patient rooms from the fragrant rose garden just outside the Main Building.
Winding trails, trees, Palisades zoysia grass, native prairie grasses and benches provide a place to relax.
Wortham Linear Park
Two blocks of landscaped parkway feature a fountain and benches.