Our New Wellness Garden

Rotary Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Janesville, Wisconsin was excited to dedicate the new Wellness Garden in 2018!  What is a wellness or healing garden?  There are many definitions but our tag line is that this space was “designed to maximize engagement of the senses, provide special programming, promote healthy living, all while providing maximum accessibility.”   As I figure out plants and programs for our newest garden space (our 26th themed garden over our 20 acres), I thought it would be nice to share the progression of how this garden was built, planted and nurtured over the last 18 months.  I did the original design for this garden over 10 years ago with the intent of creating an all-accessible space for all visitors that would include raised beds and lots of sensory interest.  RBG already provides a significant sensory experience but there were certain users that we felt couldn’t maximize their experience due to some of our accessibility challenges and lapses in programming for those with cognitive and mobility challenges.

The site directly above is a portion our old arboretum area and this circular garden quickly took form after breaking ground in the fall of 2017.  Funded by a private donor, Ruth Ann Potts and our local Mercyhealth System.  Mercyhealth dedicated their contribution in honor of their Board Chair (and our awesome volunteer!), Mr. Rowland McClellan.  The garden is quite simple in its design and includes nice wide, tinted concrete paths separated by brick work and a central patio around a fountain.  The four large raised beds all have two different access heights (24″ tall and 36″ tall).  The raised beds were built and planted for accessibility which includes those in wheelchairs or mobility challenges that necessitate sitting and gardening and/or the “belly button gardening” approach!  A walking labyrinth (donated by Elaine Strassburg) was added to this space as well and once the hardscaping of the garden was completed in June of 2018, we frantically planted the entire space in one week with lots of volunteer help (see all the kids below!).  The Wellness Garden had a dedication ceremony in mid July…just six short weeks after planting!  It looked great though.  Six of twelve benches have been installed in this space as well.  The space can be accessed directly by special user groups and the programming potential is limitless.  We already have volunteers committed to helping plant and maintain this space and the focus will again be heavily oriented towards a sensory experience with fragrance and tactile opportunities addressed significantly.  There were MANY folks involved with this endeavor and we hope to expand wellness opportunities with peripheral garden development around this space in coming years!

this walking labyrinth as an additional feature added to the Wellness Garden

kids planted over 75% of this garden in 2018 and did a super job! (above and two below)

note the fountain in the center that was added in late summer