Four years after Children’s Hospital of Illinois opened its new building, the planned rooftop garden outside the fourth floor has been completed.
The blessing and ribbon cutting for the Lynn & Jerry Flaherty Family Respite Garden took place Thursday, August 28, 2014. A reception followed the ribbon cutting at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center.
Jerry, who retired from Caterpillar after a 43-year career, and Lynn are the parents of three sons, all of whom were born prematurely and required neonatal and pediatric specialty care. For this reason, the Flaherty’s have, as Jerry puts it, “a soft spot” in their hearts for children in need and the organizations that care for them.
This soft spot led to their involvement with OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Illinois and their decision to donate $500,000 to fund the rooftop respite area for families of children receiving care at Children’s Hospital. Because of his long career, there was a matching gift by Caterpillar.
“It’s a thrill and an honor to be a part of this garden, this is for the boys,” said Lynn Flaherty, referring to her now-grown sons. “I can’t help but think of the many families who will get enjoyment and a feeling of peace while their children are patients at the hospital.”
The space, which runs the length of the building, features seating areas covered by canopies, nearly 30 trees and shrubs, more than 1,800 perennials – including ornamental grasses, a water feature, a rock “stream”, and features which will provide privacy to those using the space. Some of the trees and overhead shade structures are visible from nearby Interstate-74. The area will be open to pediatric patients’ families as a respite area from 9 AM to dusk March through October, weather permitting.
“I don’t know that I have ever met such a philanthropic, generous couple who – through their own experience – saw an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of parents who are going through a difficult time with their child,” said Keith Steffen, President and CEO of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. “This space will provide a peaceful, quiet area for meditation and, perhaps, help sooth a wounded heart in some small way. The Flaherty’s couldn’t wait to see this respite garden completed because they know what it would have meant to them when their children were hospitalized.”
Get more garden facts here:
- Quantity of Plants: Trees – 9 Shrubs – 20 Perennials – 1,837
- The concept was the woods and the meadow. The seating area is the “woods” and the balance of the garden is the “meadow”
- The overhead shade structures simulate the green tree canopies and provide that comforting sense of enclosure and protection
- Live trees were positioned over the existing structural grid and provide additional overhead structure and shade
- Multi-stem flowering ornamental tree lilacs in the raised planters provide seasonal interest
- One multi-stem red maple will provide great fall color
- Flowering shrubs and perennials were chosen to attract wildlife like birds and butterflies and their bloom periods were staggered to extend the seasonal interest
- Ornamental grass keeps its attractive fronds throughout the winter months when the view from patient windows to the garden is equally important
- The glass railing is a transparent garden edge with healing messages and is translucent green when adjacent to the live garden plants
- The garden walls are made of lightweight materials molded directly from natural garden stone (natural stone is too heavy for a roof environment)
- The seatwalls not only help contain the soil but separate the garden “rooms” so the families can have some privacy in the garden
- The water feature provides a calming and soothing sound and creates some white noise to mask private conversations
- The blue Mexican cobble stones represent the stream in the meadow
- The wood pavers are representative of a fallen tree in the woods
- The existing roof slopes for proper drainage. A pedestal system supports the walking surface to allow for a level walk so the tables and chairs are not on a sloping surface for added comfort
- A sound system was added to provide another sensory experience adding to the calming and healing environment
- Lighting accentuates the paths and landscape elements creating distinctive view of the garden at night